An army of professional binge-watchers, part of a secret Netflix operation called “Project Beetlejuice,” are suing the subscription-based video streaming company for compensation. The lawsuits claim that Netflix should have paid their professional binge-watchers as employees, with benefits including overtime pay, health insurance, and retirement. The workers were classified as independent contractors, and were paid around $10 per movie or TV show to pick the best still images and videos to represent titles in the Netflix library. The complainants claim they were micromanaged and controlled like salaried employees, and thus deserve to be paid like salaried employees, and have access to the same benefits. Independent contractors are supposed to be project based workers, with negotiating power over their work, being able to set their own deadlines and pay rate. However, in this case, Netflix controlled the pay rates, deadlines, and assignment types. Cigdem Akbay, who worked as a professional binge-watcher for Netflix from 2011 to 2014, claimed that Netflix became her full time job, and primary source of income, making her work for more than 40 hours a week at times. She was let go a few months after telling her supervisor that Netflix was her primary source of income. Her complaint stated that although she could theoretically set her own hours, “Netlfix imposed deadlines for assignments that in effect imposed a rigid work schedule.” Despite the validity of Akbay’s claims, all Netflix independent contractors signed a contract with an arbitration clause upon employment, voluntarily waiving any rights to a lawsuit. This lawsuit is just another in a long chain accusing on-demand companies of abusing their independent contractors’ rights. Uber and Lyft have both been ordered by courts to pay out settlement over employee misclassification lawsuits. Independent contractors have been growing in popularity as of late, as a tactic for companies to avoid lawsuits regarding workers’ rights by not technically hiring any full time, salaried employees. Hiring independent contractors also cuts costs by only having to pay employees on a project to project basis, without having to cover costs for health insurance and retirement benefits, often forcing new hires to sign contracts with arbitration clauses, so they won’t be sued in court for abuses to freelance employees.
If you are suffering from losses caused by mistreatment from companies like Netflix, the lawyers at Hodes Milman Liebeck are here to help you. Contact us today online at hmlm.com or call 866-730-1976 for a complimentary case evaluation.