From Crain’s New York Business, Elaine Pofeldt warns firms that hire independent workers through a platform like oDesk or Elance may be at risk of misclassifying them. She shares the story of a worker who received his assignments from Google through oDesk and subsequently filed for unemployment. She writes:
On Nov. 12, Brooklyn resident Jacob McPherson, 27, whom Google hired through oDesk, filed a high-profile collective-action suit against the search-engine giant, as well as oDesk and Elance-oDesk, the Silicon Valley firm into which oDesk has merged, in federal court in the Southern District of New York.
Mr. McPherson claimed he was denied pay while doing marketing work for Google Play in Manhattan from January 2013 to December 2013. He asserted that Google, which had paid him as a contractor through oDesk, gave him projects that were not possible to complete in the time he was allotted but did not let him bill for overtime to which he was legally entitled under the Fair Labor Standards Act. He also claimed he was denied pay for all the hours he worked, in violation of New York state law.
Before he filed the case, the state Department of Labor—reversing an earlier decision—decided he was employee, not a contractor, in a separate action. In May 2014, the state awarded him unemployment compensation he had been denied.
Mr. McPherson and Google in March agreed to attempt to settle the federal lawsuit in private mediation before the end of June, according to his attorney, Julie Salwen, who is of counsel to Harrison Harrison & Associates.
Read the full story at Is that on-demand worker actually your employee?Business