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Hollywood’s glamorous entertainment business is not always bulletproof, at least not when it comes to complying with California labor laws.  While some actors make millions playing your favorite roles on the big screen, many hardworking freelancers work tirelessly to make a living.   When one company classified these individuals as independent contractors and refused to pay them overtime or provide them with mandatory breaks, some of them decided to sue.

A Los Angeles Superior Court approved a $900,000 deal to settle the claims of approximately 35 California freelance reporters misclassified as independent contractors.

The Defendant, Prometheus Global Medial, LLC, owns several entertainment companies.   Prometheus hired the freelance reporters as independent contractors to produce content.  In the lawsuit, the reporters claimed they should have been classified as employees.  The reporters claimed that Prometheus paid them by the hour or by the day.  They claimed that Prometheus provided them with an office and equipment, as well as a telephone line and an email address.  Based on these facts, the reporters claimed that classifying them as independent contractors was improper under California employment law.

The class action representatives filed the lawsuit in 2013.  They alleged that Prometheus classified them as independent contractors to avoid having to pay them overtime compensation or providing them with meal breaks and rest breaks.  California labor law requires employers to provide those breaks and to pay overtime compensation. The parties resolved the case with a settlement that netted each reporter around $15,000.  The Superior Court granted preliminary approval of this settlement, finding the payment to the plaintiffs to be fair.

The settlement resolves the reporters’ claims of unpaid overtime and missed rest and meal breaks.  The class and settlement cover freelance reporters who worked for Prometheus as independent contractors since January of 2010.  Originally, the class included 45 members, but 10 reporters opted out to pursue their claims independently.  The remaining 35 class members received a little over $500,000 out of the settlement fund, with the rest applied towards costs and fees.  The settlement will become final upon the Los Angeles Superior Court’s final approval.

If you are an independent contractor in California who believes you should be classified as an employee, and you are not receiving overtime compensation or meal and rest breaks, you should contact an employment attorney.