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CrowdFlower seeks to dismiss misclassification suit

July 23 2013

CrowdFlower is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit by two people who claim the crowdsourcing website improperly classified them as independent contractors. The San Francisco-based company filed a motion to dismiss on Friday in federal court.

Crowdsourcing websites take on large data-driven tasks that require human judgments – such as verifying lists of business addresses – and break them down into small microtasks. Those are then farmed out to millions of Web users on several channels, including Amazon.com’s Mechanical Turk. The Web users then make the “judgments,” receiving a small amount of money or online gaming virtual credits for each judgment.

Plaintiffs Christopher Otey and Mary Greth argue the model incorrectly identified them as independent contractors and their compensation under the crowdsourcing model dipped below required minimum wages. They seek to make the case a class action.

CrowdFlower offered to pay Otey $2,148 and Greth $15,000 under a calculation of wages and liquidated damages, according to Friday’s court filing. The company argued the offers make the defendants’ claims moot because the offers fully satisfy the claims. It also argues the case should not be a class action because only two plaintiffs have come forward so far – Otey and Greth – despite the case being filed nine months ago.

A court hearing on the motion to dismiss has been set for Aug. 29.

Separately, a hearing to determine whether the case should be certified as a class action had earlier been scheduled for Aug. 2.

In a press release last week, CrowdFlower announced it received its billionth crowd judgment.

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