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A Californian and former WeWork employee is suing the co-working startup company valued at an estimated $15 billion for wrongful termination, unpaid overtime, and retaliation. The female was an associate community manager, who managed a number of the company’s Bay Area locations. She alleges WeWork’s wrongfully fired her for telling other employees about alleged violations of California Labor Code and for refusing to sign an arbitration agreement put in front of her.

“These companies are making a lot of money on the backs of misclassified workers who are often underpaid for their long hours, and that isn’t fair,” said the claimant’s attorney Ramsey Hanafi in a BuzzFeed online report.1

Wrongful Termination Claims Against WeWork

A former employee of HR startup TriNet, the claimant became savvy with labor standards and realized that her 50-to-60-hour workweek entitled her to overtime pay, not to mention work-related breaks that she wasn’t receiving. The claimant, who made a salary of $42,000 in 2015, also believed she was miscategorized in her position, and the she was entitled to overtime, meal and rest breaks for working as many hours she did a week. She also believes she is entitled to reimbursement of cell phone expenses. The claimant is seeking $25,000 or more in damages against WeWorks.

According to news reports, here’s a list of job responsibilities or duties the claimant said she was required to perform:2

  • Replace kegs of free beer in community room
  • Host parties
  • Gave visitors office tours
  • Worked in a reception capacity at the front desk

Defense Strategy

WeWork is trying to force the case into private arbitration, because of a clause the claimant signed upon being hired stating that employees are required to arbitrate disputes and disagreements out of court. WeWork also lawyered up with a well-known litigator to fight the case aggressively. The claimant filed the case in San Francisco Superior Court, but WeWorks petitioned and won the right to have the case heard before a California Federal Court. WeWorks also filed a petition in New York court, where the company is headquartered, to force the claimant to arbitrate the case privately in New York instead going before a jury in California. A decision from the New York judge is due soon.

Both the claimant and WeWorks agree that she was fired for not signing the new arbitration agreement.

Pressure Mounting for Employee Benefits at Startups

Enough disputes have emerged over the last year showing that “on-demand” workers at companies like Uber and non-technical jobs that share space at collectives want basic benefits afforded hourly wage type employees. Proving wrongful termination can be a difficult thing to do. There’s also plenty of laws on the books that prevent companies from wrongfully terminating and misclassifying them.

Contact a Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Lawyer at Moon and Yang

The best thing to do if you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job because of unfair business practices is to contact a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer at the Moon and Yang. Call today at (213) 232-3128 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.

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