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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38507
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Our company pays independent contractors $10 for spending 15

Resolved Question:

Our company pays independent contractors $10 for spending 15 minutes giving feedback on websites. These contractors are essentially participants in a survey. We currently only allow legal adults to participate. We would like to start allowing minors who are 16 and 17 years old to participate. Our business is located in California and our independent contractors (participants) are located all over the country. What rules would we need to follow to be able to legally include and pay these minor in our feedback panels?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 5 years ago.
Assuming that the minors are in fact independent contractors (which is always subject to potential legal action challenging such status), then your contracts would be subject to the state law in which the minor resides at the time that he or she enters into the contract.

In general, you would be subject to the possibility that the minor would later disaffirm the contract, at hs or her 18th birthday, at which point, whatever intellectual property rights may have been granted by the minor would be void, and you would be potentially infringing the minor's copyright with whatever you have done with the minor's creative work.

In California, however, it is legally impossible for a minor to act as an independent contractor where any intellectual property rights are transferred as a result of the contract. The minor is a statutory employee, and must be paid as such. Period, end of story. Family Code § 6750.

The point here is that in order to accomplish your goal, you will need an extremely thorough survey of the laws of each U.S. jurisdiction, so that you can avoid the myriad of potential bad outcomes. In my opinion, you would need to retain a large law firm with both intellectual property and minor entertainment labor law experience, and it would probably cost you $20,000+ in research and memorandum costs, just to find out where you stand on this issue -- even before you start drafting terms of service for your website.

BotXXXXX XXXXXne: this is a big project, so get ready to open up your wallet.

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!

socrateaser and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for your response. If instead of paying minors, we enter them in a contest in which they can when prizes, does that relieve us of the obligations you described in your response?
Expert:  socrateaser replied 5 years ago.
Contests have their own difficulties, because most contests are actually disguised ilegal gambling, unless nothing is required to enter. And, since the goal here is to obtain the work product of the minors, they are absolutely paying with their labor. Thus your contests must be open to everyone on an equal basis, whether or not they are involved in your service at all. Moreover, where a person enters a contest with labor, you are suddenly stuck between two rocks/hard places simultaneously: violation of the minimum wage law and illegal gambling.

On top of all that, you will have the same issue of dealing with the gambling laws of every U.S. jurisdiction, as you would have with dealing with the employment laws of every U.S. jurisdiction.

So, a contest is probably a worse idea than what you originally had in mind.

Note: The reason why you never see anyone doing what you are contemplating, is because as a legal dilemma, it is so difficult that it cannot be made cost effective.

Hope this helps.


And, if you need to contact me again, please put my user id on the title line of your question (“ToCustomerrdquo;), and the system will send me an alert. Thanks!


socrateaser and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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