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Tuesday
Dec232014

Worker Misclassified as Independent Contractors Sues Google

Jacob McPherson, former Google Play unit site merchandiser out of New York, sued Google and the online staffing company Elance-oDesk. He alleges that he and others in similar positions were misclassified as independent contractors by the online search engine giant. He is demanding unpaid wages, including wages that should have been paid for overtime hours. He also seeks damages and attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiff, McPherson, worked for Google from January 2013 through December 2013 as contracted. McPherson claims that he (and many others) worked up to 45 hours/week, but that Google never provided them with payment for more than 30 hours/week. While at Google, McPherson worked through oDesk who released a statement regarding the lawsuit. In their statement about the overtime suit, oDesk stated that they were committed to operating in a “lawful and ethical manner.” They researched the claims and are confident that they have no merit.

McPherson was offered employment at $35/hour for a maximum of 15 hours per week (the maximum hours per week was later raised to 30 hours, according to the suit filed against Google). McPherson was required to register at oDesk in order to receive their employment offer and he would be considered a freelancer paid only through oDesk.

McPherson claims in the lawsuit that he performed work similar to that of (and alongside at the same offices as) W-2 employees. He was assigned to teams that included W-2 employees. He was required to be in attendance for mandatory meetings and training alongside W-2 employees. He was even issued a Google owned cell phone, tablet and laptop just like the W-2 employees of the massive online search engine giant. “Freelancers” were also required to use an email signature that designated them as representatives of Google and offering the office address, follow a Google-approved method for completing assigned tasks, adhere to dress codes and the Google blogging policies, etc.

This case could be a stepping-stone for others and could mean drastic changes for online staffing and freelance sites regarding the risk associated with managing independent contractors.

If you have questions regarding your employer/worker relationship and whether or not the classification of independent contractor is appropriate according to federal regulations, contact the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik. 

Wednesday
Dec172014

Wrongful Termination and Discrimination Suit Filed against City by Former Trenton Park Ranger and Mack Supporter 

Russell Wilson was a campaign supporter for former Trenton Mayor Tony Mack. He was given the position of park ranger in 2010 after Mack won the mayoral election. Two years later, in October of 2012, Wilson was charged with trespassing and theft. Claims were made that he stole over 10 gallons of city gas for use in his private vehicle. As a result of the charges made, he was placed on leave. The charges were soon dismissed, but Wilson was not reinstated as Trenton park ranger.

In April of 2013, Wilson’s attorney sent a letter to Mack stating that the he was eligible to return to work as a park ranger for the city.

In October Mr. Wilson filed suit claiming he was wrongfully terminated from his position as a park ranger. He seeks back pay and compensation because he wasn’t reinstated after criminal charges filed against him were dismissed. The letter was sent as a means of resolving the matter without additional legal action. 

Wilson believes that he was targeted because he was a supporter of Mack during the election. At the time of the allegations made against Wilson, Mack was under investigation. Mack, the Trenton mayor, was busted as part of a government sting and was eventually found guilty of bribery, fraud and extortion. (His brother was also found guilty of participating in a scheme to take bribes in exchange for helping obtain approvals for the development of a parking garage structure). Wilson also stated that he sees the charges as age discrimination due to the fact that the police officers identified the man they saw stealing city gas only as “old.” Wilson is 71 and believes that this descriptor leading to his being officially charged with the crime constitutes discrimination according to AARP.

If you have questions regarding age discrimination or wrongful termination or discrimination in general get in touch with an expert southern California employment law expert at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik to get the answers you need.