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Reporters File Class Action Against Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Reporters, editors and photographers claim in a federal class action that Thomson Reuters misclassifies them as independent contractors to stiff them for overtime and deny them basic benefits.

Lead plaintiff Phillip Furey, a reporter, claims the news service denied him overtime wages, vacation time, health insurance and meal and rest breaks for 10 years.

He claims Thomson Reuters and Reuters America "willfully misclassified plaintiff and other journalists as independent contractors, in order to maximize profits at the expense of its journalists. Through the misclassification scheme, defendants avoid the costs of providing workers compensation protection to their own journalists, further denying them of much needed compensation in the event of work-related sickness or injury."

Lead attorney C. Joe Sayas, of Glendale, could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Reuters classifies its reporters, editors, photographers, producers, videographers and other journalists as contractors, Furey says, but treats its news gatherers as employees by providing them with press credentials, Reuters email addresses and name tags, and obligatory daily conference calls to ensure they comply with Reuters policies. Reuters also requires them to adhere to specific reporting guidelines, such as standardized language and formatting for stories.

The proposed class, consisting of all journalists who worked for Thomson Reuters in the past four years, seeks restitution, unpaid wages with interest, civil penalties for minimum wage and waiting time violations, attorneys' fees, and an injunction against misclassification policies.

Reuters did not respond to a request for comment.

Thomson Reuters has 60,000 employees in 100 nations and reported $12.6 billion in revenue in 2014, according to publicly available information. It is the corporate parent of several publishing groups, including Reuters, Westlaw and West publishing.Sayas is assisted by Alvin Gomez in Del Mar.

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