San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) December 19, 2017 - McCormack & Erlich, LLP obtained a $1.95 million settlement in a worker misclassification lawsuit filed against Moet Hennessey USA, Strategic Experiential Group (SEG) and other related entities. A California judge recently granted preliminary approval to the settlement, with only minor modifications.
Plaintiffs Krystle Harrison, Napoleon Aparicio and Shyron McDougall sued their former employers in March 2016, alleging they misclassified workers as independent contractors and failed to pay them their rightful wages. The plaintiffs represented a class of models, logistics personnel and brand ambassadors who worked for the companies.
Under the settlement deal approved by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Brad Seligman, each class member will receive an average payout of around $1,580. Attorney Jason Erlich of San Francisco-based employment law firm McCormack & Erlich represented the workers, along with Jennie Lee Anderson of Andrus Anderson LLP.
“The growth of the so-called gig economy brings with it a concern that worker rights are being ignored,” commented Erlich. “In such settings, it becomes far too easy for employers to illegally misclassify their workers as independent contractors in order to get away with overtime and wage violations. As this case highlights, fighting against worker misclassification has become more important than ever.”
SEG contracts with Moet Hennessy and other liquor brands to provide brand ambassadors and logistics personnel for promotional events at public venues. The lawsuit accused the companies of multiple California Labor Code violations. The plaintiffs allegedly were not paid for mandatory trainings and for having to show up early at promotional events. They were also not reimbursed for uniform expenses or compensated for missed meal and rest breaks.
Under state labor laws, the right to control is a crucial factor when determining worker classification. According to the complaint, the defendants allegedly exercised significant control over the models’ duties, schedules and working conditions. For example, they were told what to say and wear during promotional events.
Although Moet Hennessy and SEG denied engaging in illegal payroll practices, they agreed to resolve the case through a settlement in June. A final fairness hearing will take place on April 24.
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