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LA Magazine Sued by Former Executive Editor for Lost Wages, Violation of California Labor Law

Joseph Kapsch, who is also a contributor to TheWrap, says he was misclassified as a contractor

Joseph Kapsch, the former executive editor of Los Angeles magazine’s digital site lamag.com, has sued the publication, accusing it of multiple violations of California labor law, including failure to pay wages and overtime, misclassification as a contractor and failure to itemize wage statements.

Kapsch, who is now a contributor to TheWrap, worked for Los Angeles magazine from October 2021 through June 2022 and says he was wrongly classified as a contractor, asserting that the publication violated the so-called “ABC” test in doing so.

The “ABC Test” establishes three criteria that must be met in order for an employee to be considered a contractor rather than a full employee: “The person is independent of the hiring organization in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact”; “The person performs work that is outside the hiring entity’s business.”; and “The person is routinely doing work in an independently established trade, occupation, or business that is the same as the work being requested and performed.”

In his filing, Kapsch asserts that he met none of those conditions, saying that Los Angeles magazine asserted “extensive and pervasive control over Plaintiffs conduct, means and manner of work, actions, wages, and hours,” that his duties as executive editor were “necessary” for the function and publication of the magazine, and that he wasn’t engaged in independently established work for them.

As such, the suit says, Kapsch was legally a non-exempt employee, and that he was illegally deprived of overtime pay and clearly itemized wages. In addition, Kapsch asserts that he didn’t receive all money owed to him when his employment with Los Angeles magazine ended, a violation of California law that says all such wages must be provided immediately, or the employer must pay an additional 30 days wages as a penalty.

Kapsch is seeking to-be-determined compensatory damages, statutory penalties and the covering of legal fees for the lost wages and overtime; actual damages, legal fees, statutory penalties and legally mandated penalties for the misclassification; and legal fees, compensatory damages and statutory damages for the failure to itemize his wages.

Los Angeles magazine, currently led by editor-in-chief Maer Roshan, was purchased from Detroit-based Hour Media by Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney Mark Geragos and civil rights lawyer Ben Meisela in December 2022. Their new joint company, Engine Vision Media, also runs Pasadena and Orange County magazines.

Representatives for Los Angeles magazine didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.