Originally published on August 6, 2014, at NationofChange.org
In violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, LinkedIn Corp. has paid $3,346,195 in back wages and $2,509,646 in damages to 359 former and current employees. An investigation led by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division exposed LinkedIn’s failure to record, account, and pay all hours worked including overtime wages. LinkedIn agreed to pay the back wages and liquidated damages in order to prevent repeat violations.
“Off-the-clock hours are all too common for the American worker. This practice harms workers, denies them the wages they have rightfully earned, and takes away time with families,” said Susana Blanco, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in San Francisco. “The department is committed to protecting the rights of workers and leveling the playing field for all law-abiding employers.”
LinkedIn has also agreed to provide enhanced compliance training to their managers. The purpose of the training will be to remind managers that employee’s overtime hours must be logged and paid. The training will also remind managers that off-the-clock work for all nonexempt employees and retaliation against their employees are both prohibited under the law.
In a statement from the U.S. Department of Labor, which has its own LinkedIn page, Dr. David Weil declared, “We are particularly pleased that LinkedIn also has committed to take positive and practical steps towards securing future compliance.”
Self-proclaimed as the world’s largest professional networking site, LinkedIn has over 313 million members and reported a 47 percent increase in second-quarter revenue last week. In February, LinkedIn launched the beta version of their Simplified Chinese website. Although LinkedIn already had over 4 million members in China using the English version of its site, the company sought out an additional 140 million members in China.
“As a condition for operating in the country, the government of China imposes censorship requirements on Internet platforms,” admitted LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. “LinkedIn strongly supports freedom of expression and fundamentally disagrees with government censorship. At the same time, we also believe that LinkedIn’s absence in China would deny Chinese professionals a means to connect with others on our global platform, thereby limiting the ability of individual Chinese citizens to pursue and realize the economic opportunities, dreams, and rights most important to them.”
Reminiscent of Google’s rationalizations for launching a censored version of its search engine in China in 2006, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner’s arguments for endorsing government censorship appear just as hypocritical.
Last year, whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed documents revealing the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) had used a fake LinkedIn account to install malicious spyware to tap customers’ telephone and data traffic. The British intelligence and security agency infiltrated a Belgian telecom provider named Belgacom by luring employees to the false LinkedIn page.
For a company that promotes professional social networking, LinkedIn has also chosen to commit labor violations, endorse government censorship, and comply with mass surveillance. Although they claim to be rectifying the wage violations, LinkedIn still supports government censorship in China and contributes to state surveillance throughout the world.