This post discusses why – especially now that Assembly Bill No. 5 (AB-5) has taken effect – in California corporate officers are considered employees rather than independent contractors.
California Corporate Officers Employees by Statute
The starting point is California Unemployment Insurance Code Section 621. This Section states, in relevant part:
“Employee” means all of the following:
(a) Any officer of a corporation.
This post discusses a recent decision by which the California Supreme Court adopted the so-called ABC Test for misclassification of employees as independent contractors.
This post discusses a 2014 case (Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.) which held that California employers must reimburse employees who use a personal cell phone for work.
Plaintiff Colin Cochran, as class representative, brought a class action lawsuit against Schwan’s Home Service (“Home Service”) on behalf of 1,500 service managers employed by Home Service. The suit sought, among other things, reimbursement of the managers’ work-related personal cell phone expenses. (more…)
Do you wonder why lawyers often have a bad reputation? If so, consider the ridiculous Yelp lawsuit alleging that Yelp’s reviewers are employees of the company.
Yelp is an online review site and local business search service. Consumers are encouraged to write reviews of, and rate their satisfaction with, various products and services.
Historically, controversies have concerned whether Yelp punishes businesses for not advertising on the site (which Yelp denies). More recently, business owners have complained about Yelp’s automated tools for removing false or inappropriate (e.g., paid) reviews based on unpublished criteria.
This post is adapted from a question I answered on OnStartups. Q. I’ve been working for a large private company, and my offer letter said I would receive X number of options as long as the board approved it. It’s been a year and I’ve been stonewalled on the option plan. I’ve sent multiple emails to HR and the controller and the CFO. HR has gotten back to me, but their hands are tied. Can I send a letter and a check to the CFO with $100 to force the issue of exercising some amount of shares and determining the strike price that way?
A. Unfortunately, “subject to board approval” is a common contingency for stock option grants. At this point, I’m not sure there is much you can do about it.
Many companies – especially startups – like the idea of using unpaid interns as free labor. This post discusses whether and how a California company can use unpaid interns.
Paid or Unpaid Interns vs. Employees
If individuals are interns under California law (as discussed below), then they need not be paid. Furthermore, they are not subject to other employment protections, because they are not employees.
If, on the other hand, individuals are determined to be employees, then they must be paid at least minimum wage.
This post is adapted from a question that I answered on Quora. Q. How can an acquirer make an employee with single-trigger vesting commit to a “lock-up” period to receive all his shares? Say you’re an engineer at a just-acquired startup with 0.5% of the old company, and your shares fully vested upon acquisition. The acquirer’s terms were that current employees get 50% of their payout up front, and 50% if they stay on board for 5 years. How is that possible, legally?
A. It is difficult to provide a definitive answer without looking at the relevant documents. However, I suspect that this situation is possible because 50/50 pertains to shares in the acquiring company rather than the acquired company.
In my experience, acquired companies will put some effort into converting employee equity interests directly into comparable interests in the acquiring company, but there is no guarantee this will happen.
So you may (I can’t be sure, not having reviewed the documents) have a choice: Keep your 0.5% fully-vested interest in the acquired company (which is likely to have little, if any, market value in the foreseeable future), or accept the 50/50 conversion to an equity interest in the acquiring company.
Dana H. Shultz, Attorney at Law? +1 510 547-0545? dana [at] danashultz [dot] com
This blog does not provide legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer directly.
From time to time, clients ask me to review their current form of employment offer letter.
As a result, I am writing this post. It is a summary of what I believe every offer letter should convey to the prospective employee from the business and legal perspectives.
Offer Letter Business Terms
From the business perspective, the letter should lay out the most important characteristics of the position: (more…)
I am especially pleased to welcome Rita Risser as a guest writer – not just because her post about sexual harassment is this blog’s first guest post, but because I have had the pleasure of knowing, and staying in touch with, Rita ever since we met at Boalt Hall.
As CEO of a small company, you may imagine that the recent resignation of HP’s CEO has no relevance to you and your organization. Think again.
Whenever employees or contractors are let go, they are more likely to bring claims for harassment, whistle-blowing and more. The worse the economy, the less likely they are to find other jobs and the more incentive they have to pursue alternative sources of income through lawsuits.