An ex-Legg Mason worker claims she was misclassified as a temporary worker and denied certain benefits associated with full-time employment despite doing “everything a full-time permanent employee” did.
According to the lawsuit, Legg Mason’s classification of certain workers as temporary employees deprived them of participation in the investment management firm’s benefit plans, including its health benefit, 401(k), employee stock option and severance benefits plans. Moreover, the suit alleges, the workers were similarly denied other benefits to which full-time employees were entitled, including paid holiday and vacation leave, paid time off, annual bonuses, retention and upon sale retention bonuses, severance and severance sub payments, merit increases, outplacement services and remote work bonuses.
The case, filed against defendants Legg Mason, Inc.; Legg Mason & Co., LLC; and Franklin Resources, Inc. (doing business as Franklin Templeton), goes on to claim that temporary employees are owed unpaid overtime due to Legg Mason’s apparent failure to provide them proper meal breaks as required under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
“Because Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees were full-time permanent employees, they were entitled to such benefits and earned those benefits through their work,” the complaint reads. “Defendants failed to provide Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees the benefits, pay, and wages to which they were entitled and which were earned because Defendants misclassified Plaintiff and other similarly situated employees as temporary employees, instead of full-time permanent employees.”
The plaintiff, a Fairfield County, Connecticut resident, says she began working on Legg Mason’s product marketing team in February 2017 at the defendants’ Stamford, Connecticut offices. Per the case, although the plaintiff was classified as a temporary employee, she continuously worked for the defendants from her initial hire date until her discharge in August 2020—a period of three-and-a-half years without any gaps in her employment, the case says.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff did not work on an isolated project but was “fully integrated” into the product marketing team and performed the tasks of a permanent, full-time employee.
“Plaintiff was assigned tasks not usually given to temporary employees such as approving and administrating Consultants’ Invoices and Expenses who performed services for Defendants,” the complaint explains. “Plaintiff was also assigned to important and confidential tasks including compiling confidential organizational information for Defendants’ Marketing, Human Resources and Sales Departments, the Board of Directors, and Defendants’ Affiliates, tasks typically assigned to permanent full-time employees.”
The plaintiff says Legg Mason’s officers and managers considered her to be a permanent employee and explicitly told her so. In fact, although the plaintiff was told her improper misclassification would be corrected, the defendants failed to do so, the lawsuit alleges.
While the plaintiff was treated as a full-time, permanent employee—including by being subject to Legg Mason’s employee handbook, instructed to log her time and expenses in the defendants’ payroll system, included on all employee communications, given full access to the workplace, assigned a permanent office space, and provided with a W-2 form at the end of each year—she was deprived of the benefits associated with full-time employees.
Moreover, because the plaintiff was misclassified as a temporary employee, she was not provided with benefits under Legg Mason’s severance plan when the company was acquired by Franklin Resources in April 2020, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit says Legg Mason’s misclassification of the plaintiff and similarly situated workers as temporary employees was “an abuse of discretion, arbitrary and capricious, and simply wrong in fact.”
The plaintiff looks to represent similarly situated current and former employees employed by the defendants who were misclassified as temporary employees prior to the suit’s filing.
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