A proposed collective and class action alleges American Sign Language, Inc. (ASLI) has misclassified its sign-language interpreters as independent contractors, depriving them of certain rights typically afforded to employees.
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The 12-page case says that as part of its core business model, the New York-based company employs and places sign-language interpreters where their services are needed. According to the lawsuit, the relationship between ASLI and its sign-language interpreters reflects that of an employer and employee, given the defendant “unilaterally” controls the workers’ schedules, pay rates and duties.
Nevertheless, ASLI has failed to provide interpreters with benefits to which the workers should be entitled under state and federal law, including overtime wages, participation in a retirement plan, Social Security contributions, state and federal income tax deductions and proper wage notices or statements, the filing contends.
The plaintiff, a sign-language interpreter who ASLI has assigned to work at a New York City public school for the past five years, says the company has “thoroughly controlled” the terms and conditions of her employment.
“Plaintiff did not run her own business, advertise her services, or control her own work schedule, as an independent contractor would,” the case reads. “Nor did Plaintiff make hiring decisions or invest in materials and equipment, as an independent contractor would.”
Instead, the complaint says, ASLI assigned the plaintiff a fixed schedule and paid her a set hourly rate through its payroll. The woman has received no overtime wages, been denied access to benefits like a 401k plan and incurred greater income tax and Social Security liability than if she were appropriately classified as an employee, the case notes.
As such, the suit claims ASLI has been “unjustly enriched” by “deliberately and systematically” misclassifying its sign-language interpreters as independent contractors.
The lawsuit looks to cover current and former American Sign Language, Inc. employees who were misclassified as “independent contractors” and, consequently, denied accurate and/or complete wage notices upon hiring as required by New York Labor Law, denied accurate and/or complete wage statements on each payday containing the information required by New York Labor Law and incurred greater New York State income tax liability because of their misclassification.
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