Bryan Schwartz Law Sues Shutterstock for Independent Contractor Misclassification, Testing New ABC Test

July 20, 2018, Oakland – A former Image Reviewer who worked for Shutterstock, Inc. has filed a class and representative action suit against Shutterstock on behalf of herself and others, seeking to recover significant unpaid wages and penalties. The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court for the County of Sonoma, claims Shutterstock systematically misclassifies its Image Reviewers, Footage Reviewers, Vector/Illustration Reviewers, and similar content Reviewers as independent contractors, in violation of California state law.

Reviewers—the workers who comb through thousands of images daily to check them against Shutterstock’s detailed guidelines—at times work more than eight hours in a day without breaks, particularly when Shutterstock has unexpected need to process large amounts of content. For years, Shutterstock has misclassified its Reviewers as freelancers despite requiring Reviewers to:

·     attend mandatory training webinars on Shutterstock’s standards, 
·     complete frequent tests regarding Shutterstock’s standards, 
·     adhere to Shutterstock’s detailed written standards in accepting or rejecting all content they review, and
·     escalate any issues not addressed in Shutterstock’s detailed written standards to Reviewers’ Shutterstock supervisors. 

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court held that whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor depends on if the company can meet each part of the “ABC test”:

Under this test, a worker is properly considered an independent contractor to whom a wage order does not apply only if the hiring entity establishes: (A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact; (B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and (C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.

Dynamex Operations W. v. Superior Court, 4 Cal. 5th 903, 916-17 (2018).

“Under the Dynamex ABC test, Reviewers are plainly employees, entitled to overtime, paid rest breaks, unemployment insurance, and similar basic protections afforded any California employee,” says lead Plaintiff’s counsel Bryan Schwartz, of Bryan Schwartz Law.

As lead Plaintiff Rebecca Call, states: “Shutterstock depended on us to make its business work. It should take responsibility as our employer.” 

Bryan Schwartz Law has represented thousands of workers nationwide, recovering tens of millions of dollars in unpaid wages in recent years from Fortune 500 companies that fail to pay workers lawful wages, including companies which misclassified workers as independent contractors. 

The case is Call v. Shutterstock, Inc., filed today in Sonoma County Superior Court (SCV-262841). For more information about this case, please contact Bryan Schwartz at