Dispute Over Signed ‘Hamilton' Poster Triggers Lawsuit Against Kennedy Center

An employee says memorabilia gathering is common practice by staff but that he was treated unfairly for seeking and accepting a signed 'Hamilton' poster

A dispute over a signed poster from the cast of "Hamilton" has triggered a $1 million lawsuit against the Kennedy Center by one of its managers.

The wildly popular musical performed at the Kennedy Center in D.C. from June to September 2018. In a civil suit filed Monday, Joseph Burgess, of Bethesda, Maryland, alleges he was unfairly treated by Kennedy Center officials for seeking and accepting one of the facility's "Hamilton" posters signed by the cast and crew. His suit also says memorabilia gathering is common practice by staff at the famed theater. 

Burgess, a building manager, alleges defamation, negligent infliction of emotional distress and a hostile work environment in his civil suit against the Kennedy Center.

His lawsuit says a Kennedy Center official demanded the return of the poster. Burgess also alleges a Kennedy Center official accused him of theft in front of others and sent an email prior citing complaints against Burgess. Burgess disputes there were prior complaints.

In his suit, Burgess said another staffer gave him reason to believe he was permitted to collect the signed poster. 

Burgess alleges the signed copy of the "Hamilton" poster is now being kept in the office of a Kennedy Center executive, according to the lawsuit. In his civil complaint, Burgess said it is customary "for Kennedy Center staff to place memorabilia in a designated area in the Kennedy Center for the cast of shows playing at the Kennedy Center to autograph." 

The lawsuit, which names both the Kennedy Center and another employee as defendants, seeks $1 million in damages. 

The Kennedy Center did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The Kennedy Center's 2018 run of "Hamilton" was among the most anticipated shows in a generation in D.C. Fans lined up for hours to get tickets, including outside the facility during a brutal stretch of winter cold

The show will return for 14 weeks at the Kennedy Center in summer 2020.

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