Calif. — A California state court certified a class of dozens of freelance content producers who claim that the parent company of their employer, The Hollywood Reporter, failed to pay them overtime in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) by classifying them as independent contractors despite their employment in the publication’s offices allegedly doing the same work as company employees. Former Assistant Editor of Social Media and Video Coordinator David Simpson, the representative plaintiff, filed suit alleging Prometheus Global Media LLC, which owns The Hollywood Reporter, as well as Billboard and several other publications, claiming the company willfully misclassified freelance producers as independent contractors to avoid overtime pay requirements.
The California state court certified a class of forty-three freelance producers who worked at Prometheus from January 2010 to present. Those producers included in the class were paid hourly or on a day rate and were given office space, a computer, a company email account, and a dedicated phone line. Even though the court emphasized that the misclassification issue was central to the suit, it also certified the class on the claims involving overtime and missed rest and meal breaks, as these were all contingent on whether the putative class members were or were not employees and they could all point to a common policy.
Additionally, the court concluded that the jobs performed by the freelance producers were in fact a principal contribution to the business of putting out a newspaper. This observation is a significant part of the test recently clarified by the U.S. Department of Labor for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor. One of the elements of the test is to ask whether the work performed by the individual is an integral part of the employer’s business. If the work performed is integral to the employer’s business, it is more likely that the worker is economically dependent on the employer and, thus, is probably an employee. This is in contrast to a true independent contractor’s work, which is unlikely to be integral to the employer’s business.
According to the DOL, work can be integral to a business even if the work is just one component of the business and/or is performed by hundreds or thousands of other workers. Moreover, work can be integral to an employer’s business even if it is performed away from the employer’s premises, at the worker’s home, or on the premises of the employer’s customers.
Employers may be misclassifying workers intentionally as independent contractors in order to avoid the minimum wage and overtime requirements of FLSA. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel your employee wage rights have been violated and you are not being sufficiently compensated. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.