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Employee classification at the heart of contractors’ lawsuits

One confusing aspect of the law when it comes to the employer-employee relationship in California is how contractors are classified and compensated. For a variety of reasons on the part of both the employer and employee, a greater number of workers are functioning as contractors and not actual employees. With that, a disagreement on any issue can be a contentious matter. Those who are having a problem related to employee classification need to have a grasp on the law and assistance in pursuing what they are entitled to.

Two people who worked as contractors for Netflix have filed lawsuits alleging that they did not receive various benefits they believe they should have received. Those benefits include health insurance and overtime. The claimants worked for the company for as much as 40 hours a week. They watched films and shows, receiving approximately $10 for each to pick clips and images to be used as highlights for users of the service. The plaintiffs are based in Los Angeles.

One contractor says that her work warranted being treated as a fulltime employee, and she should have received the benefits to accompany that. This is due to Netflix having deadlines that rendered the independent nature and flexible hours that were supposed to be inherent with the job as meaningless. To be a contractor, the state law says that there must be independence and flexibility. She says she was dismissed when she informed the company that the job was her main income stream. This is a similar situation to other contractor-based jobs in cleaning services, online retailers and car services. Since it costs less for the companies to hire contractors, this is the foundation to their business model. Contractor complaints are significantly problematic to their businesses.

People who work as contractors might enjoy the freedom and flexibility that it is supposed to provide, but there are certain factors that have to be taken into account. If there is a belief that there are violations of the law taking place and certain benefits or the classification of the job has changed to something that means they should be treated as fulltime employees, there could be the basis for a lawsuit. With that in mind, those who think they are being treated illegally when it comes to wage laws or other benefits may want to discuss the matter with an employment law attorney.

Source: Fortune, “Freelance Screeners Sue Netflix for Employment Benefits,” David Z. Morris, June 18, 2016


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