Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Contractor Pay and what else is out there.

Okay, everyone I know I took a little longer than a week with this information, but I had some other obligations including taxes. Speaking of which, at some point I would like to do a post on the tax differential between independent contractors and agencies. When you are an independent and are negotiating, then you need to be aware of the income differential and cover yourself as well as any medical etc. that you might need. I digress.

As far as what is out there, the answer is not much. Certainly not enough at the moment to cover all of the 125 or so that were laid off from the McCarter job. There will likely be a Document review (rather large) opening for Vytorin soon. That is through Dechert. Rumor has it that they already have a small group other than the former Vioxx people working on it. Most of the other projects I have heard about are ongoing, and most were known earlier in the year. I have heard a rumor that the Duane Morris project ended, but no confirmation yet. If you have new information or want to update the chart, I will try to do so as often as I can. I will keep you updated about any new information that I hear.

As to the McCarter layoff, it seems that the layoffs on the project were indeed without regard to date of hire, though the newest people received the most drastic cuts. Team leads do indeed appear to have been asked for their opinions of 7+ people that they wanted to cut. This resulted in team leads exercising sometimes arbitrary judgment and played reality TV with people's jobs and lives. I don't like this person, so I am voting them off the island. In some cases there were valid reasons, but in others people were let go without regard for their excellent work product. Some of these firings came across as revenge terminations. While it is temp work and cut backs are inevitable, this particular one was very poorly handled.

As to those that are unemployed and still looking, I also might recommend looking at legal options against Hudson. If you had seniority over the people who started in January, you were making your minimum hours, your productivity and accuracy were high, and you feel that the main reason for your selection was merely that your team lead did not like you, then you have a potential suit for WRONGFUL TERMINATION. What is better than just the idea that you might have a suit, is that they likely never documented any of the activities that they could say they let you go for. Second, if you had discussed the ideas of unionization or engaged in any protected concerted action just prior to the layoffs and feel that this is the reason for your termination, then you may want to get Hudson in trouble with the NLRB, your rights should have been protected. Third, there is no no impediment to trying to sue them for back wages for those weeks that you worked more than 40 hours, I believe that if you sue under the FLSA, you can get the overtime pay for what you should have earned between 40 and 45 hours which was time and a half. Now you have an opportunity to do things that many contractors want to do, stick it to Hudson.

Anyway, I have babbled on long enough. Here are the pay charts. Please send me updates.

The Black Sheep.


Anonymous said...

Quite a bit of the information in your chart is incorrect. I don't know if that is because reviewers are intentionally feeding you misinformation in order to keep others away from their jobs, or if the reviewers are just confused. For at least one job, the pay rate is wrong, the agency is wrong, the overtime availability is wrong, and the hours are wrong. I know its hard for you to fact-check the information, but some of it is not correct.

Anonymous said...

The team leads also appeared to have been recently rewarded for all of their hard work by being given an extra $5G.

Anonymous said...

This is the reason the firms and the agencies always will have the upper-hand (and talk of unionizing is a joke). When I talk to my colleagues about these blogs, they are afraid of them. They don't want to upset their masters, and many of them are apologists for the powers that be (even people who have been through Dechert and/or McCarter). At the very least, share information people. No offense, but you are being greedy cowards.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the charts, Black Sheep. It looks like things have slowed down a bit here in Philadelphia, and rates are stagnant except for Stradley.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, I am new to this - who staffs the Dechert Vytorin project?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your blog. I want to encourage you to keep it up. As a contractor att'y in Philly myself, I find it simultaneously very informative and interesting.
Yes, as contractors, we're all thrown into a storm so to speak, but for every storm, there's always a calm, so just keep your headup and keep going. Just curious, what project do you work on? I'm currently with Stradley.

Anonymous said...

I have some information regarding Morgan. Most of the posted info is incorrect. See below:

Internet: available, with breaks taken in billing time to account for this

Time Keeping: qtr hour

Bathrooms: 4+, there are other bathrooms in the firm that can be used as well

# of reviewers: 75+

Location: 17th and Market

Rate: 32/hr - 40/hr with time and a half (1.5) for overtime hours

Hours: 40+, almost always overtime available

Mandatory Breaks: No, you don't bill for the time you don't work.

Other: As a person familiar with a source who works at Morgan, I can tell you that I have friends that work there that not only have had consistent work for almost THREE FULL YEARS but any downtime has been measured in a few days a year, not weeks at a time. There is also the oppurtunity to work on more substantive projects and to be hired on full time in a capacity that ranges from staff attorney to a full associate of the firm.

Anonymous said...

11:28 AM, as someone who actually worked at Morgan Lewis, I can tell you that there are many people who did not have consistent work and had downtime measured in weeks or months. I never worked on any substantive project, nor did any of my contractor colleagues. As far as I know, nobody was hired as a staff attorney.

I think that high billing rates, consistent hours, and more challenging work were probably available to a small group of veteran contractors.

I don't mean to bash on Morgan, as it is a generally pleasant environment for contract work. I was always treated as a professional there and given plenty of latitude. Nobody was watching over my shoulder, unlike some other places I could name.

Anonymous said...

The Morgan job is good and bad - I was there for 2 and a half years. Long layoffs are common, but so is OT. The people you work with are generally awesome, very nice contractors. There have been people hired there, but not for a long time - they hired too many at one point. The people in charge are generally cool, excpet the woman in charge is a competitive bodybuilder who most people think spends not enough time drumming up more work. The PMs are generally all cool, but some are not too bright. All in all, it is a pleasant place to work if you can take the potential layoffs

Anonymous said...

Just a few words about overtime and attorneys. A few years ago the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) amended its regulations with respect to the applicability of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to attorneys. In a nutshell, the amended regulations conclude that attorneys are not covered by the maximum hours provisions of the FLSA, and that their employer's are not required to pay overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the attorney's regular rate for hours worked in excess of forty. That said, Pennsylvania has a Minimum Wage Act that parrots the wording of the FLSA. Although the DOL amended its regulations interpreting the FLSA with regard to attorneys, Pennsylvania's Department of Labor and Industry has not issued any similar interpretive regulations exempting attorneys from Pennsylvania's overtime requirements. (This probably explains why many of the large firms pay overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the regular rate. If they could legally pay only straight time overtime they probably would) To assert a claim under the Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act, a claim would be asserted under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL). The WPCL provides for recovery of unpaid wages--overtime at less than 1.5 times the regular rate-- and allows for an award of treble damages and payment of reasonable attorney's fees. To those attorney's on the Hudson project who were paid straight time overtime for hours worked in excess of forty, a claim in Municipal court under the WPCL is the way to go. Alternatively, put together 2 or 3 of your former colleagues and you could assert a class action claim.

On the subject of unionization and the National Labor Relations Act, That claim is asserted by filing an unfair labor practice charge against the employer. The appropriate form can be found here The charge is filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). If you were discussing unionization with a colleague- that is regarded as protected concerted activity, and an employer who discharges or otherwise changes your terms and conditions of employment in retaliation for your engaging in protected concerted activity commits an unfair labor practice. The remedies available are reinstatement with backpay. One problem you may facewith the NLRB is that if the case you were laid off from is wrapping up and you would have been laid off 3 or 4 weeks later anyway, your remedy is only going to be the 3 or 4 weeks lost pay since there is no job to go back to. Another issue is that you are not in control of the case-- the NLRB makes the decsion on whether to prosecute the ULP, when and how much to settle for, etc. Hope that this was helpful.

Anonymous said...

You don't have a wrongful termination. PA is an at will employment state. They can fire you for any reason as long as it is not discriminatory. So don't be foolish and file a, maybe if you people stopped blogging and read up on the law you wouldn't be working on a document review. All this "sue" them non-sense simply justifies the reason for your being on a review.

Anonymous said...

Attorneys are not entitled to overtime pay in PA, as attorney clearly fal under the "professional" exemption. Period.