Friday, November 09, 2012

Artists Taking a Stand

A little over a year ago, we posted about our discovery of the hiring practices of The Mill in Santa Monica and were introduced to the EOR company, Yurcor. As mentioned in that post, we asked for artists who had experience working through Yurcor to contact us to explore the possibility of recovering wages we felt had been taken illegally.

We've recently received word that some of those artists have been able to file a lawsuit against The Mill and Yurcor:
Recently, three Los Angeles artists filed a lawsuit in state court against The Mill and Yurcor. The Mill, a visual effects production company, employed the three artists on a temporary basis. Yurcor, which processed the paychecks of artists at The Mill, told the artists that it was their “employer of record” while they worked at The Mill. In the case, which was filed in California state court as a class action on behalf of themselves and an estimated 500 other California artists, the artists allege that The Mill and Yurcor failed to pay them the compensation that they were promised.

The lawsuit alleges that The Mill and Yurcor schemed to treat California artists as independent contractors when in fact they were employees. Under California law, the artists were employees and not independent contractors because The Mill exercised total control over the manner in which they worked, and also set their wages, hours, and other working conditions.

In addition to taking standard employer payroll deductions from the artists’ paychecks for their work at The Mill, Yurcor also took illegal deductions from their wages for Yurcor’s “administrative overhead costs.” As alleged, The Mill and Yurcor sought to confuse and deceive the California artists about their employee status in order to enrich themselves, deliberately misclassifying the artists as independent contractors when they were in fact employees. This meant that the artists lost wages they were promised.

The artists allege, among other things, violations of various provisions in the California Labor Code. They seek relief including lost wages, interest and penalties, as well as an order prohibiting The Mill and Yurcor from engaging in this conduct in the future.

Congratulations to the artists who took a stand and did their part to make the visual effects industry a better place to work. We will continue to keep you up to date on developments in this case as they are presented to us.


Eric Rosenthal said...

Great - this is one of the reasons I support the Union 100%. I was involved in that when MBO partners tried to do the same thing but not many people would stand up to them. Please keep us up to date.

Steven Kaplan said...

Hello Eric, thanks for the praise. But the real thanks belong to the artists who stood up and put their names to this. They are the ones taking Yurcor and Mill on, and are the real fighters here. We're glad to be acting as facilitators.

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