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Google Sued By Former Contract Recruiter For Withholding Pay

A class action suit alleges that the search giant regularly demanded 40+ hour weeks but wasn't willing to pay overtime.

[Photo: Flickr User meneame comunicacions, sl]

Former Google contract recruiter Tymuoi Ha filed suit against the company for wage and hour violations, claiming that Google and Urpan Technologies (one of the many staffing agencies the search giant uses to hire temporary and contract workers) withheld wages.

The class action suit was filed today in Santa Clara Superior Court and alleges that the defendants violated the California Labor Code "by denying employees compensation for all overtime worked, failing to pay owed wages upon separation from employment, and not furnishing accurate wage statements," according to a statement from Ha’s attorneys.

Because Ha is part of a class action suit, the other plaintiffs include:

"All persons who worked for Defendants in California as temporary or contract sourcers, closers, and recruiters, and any other worker who performed substantially the same work as workers with those titles or in those roles in Google’s People Operations department (including, without limitation, temporary workers assigned to the Channel organizations) at any time since January 27, 2012."

The lawsuit notes that Google and UrpanTech were joint employers.

Ha claims that she and others regularly worked more than eight hour days. According to the filing, it was common for them to put in 12 hours per day and recruiters often worked weekends, well in excess of the standard 40 hour week. As such, Google and UrpanTech didn’t keep accurate accounts of the hours put in and Ha alleges that she and other recruiters were not compensated for their overtime.

Ha also claims that in January 2014 she complained about this to her immediate supervisor who is a staff manager at Google, who told her there wasn’t anything he could do about it. She alleges that she then got a call from her supervisor’s boss telling her that the complaint was "inappropriate" and she needed to apologize. She says she did, out of fear of losing her job.

Michael Palmer, a Sanford Heisler partner and lead counsel for Ha explained in a statement: "The companies restrict the number of hours recruiters can report, knowing that they must work overtime to meet performance goals. In return for the unpaid labor, the companies dangle the possibility of permanent employment. That is hardly fair and just compensation."

However, in a week, Ha was terminated. But it wasn’t over.

According to the filing:

After she was terminated, Defendants communicated with Plaintiff regarding her overtime hours worked but not paid, and subsequently permitted Plaintiff to submit a report of the overtime hours that Defendants’ managers did not allow her to claim in the past. Defendants acknowledged that they had failed to compensate Plaintiff for her overtime worked. However, even after this admission, Defendants refused to pay her for all overtime owed.

This isn’t the first time Google’s been sued for withholding wages. In late 2014, in the case of McPherson v. Google, et al., filed in New York federal court, the plaintiff alleged that Google failed to classify him as an independent contractor, didn’t pay overtime, and then fired him after he asked for more hours to be covered under his contract. A private settlement on undisclosed terms was reached in 2015.
 
In a statement her attorneys said that Ha seeks to recover damages, including unpaid wages, on behalf of herself and a California class of Google contract recruiters.  

Fast Company reached out to a Google representative, and they did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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