Industry groups rally around Microsoft in temp case

By Barb Cole-Gomolski, Computerworld |  Business

The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), a trade group in
Arlington, Va., said today that it has filed a friend of the court petition supporting
Microsoft's request for rehearing a case involving long-term temporary workers. Eight
other trade associations and industry groups joined in the motion.

The move follows a May 12 decision by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit,
which would reclassify thousands of temporary workers as permanent employees. Microsoft
requested a rehearing with the full Ninth Circuit panel last week.

The court ruled that some long-term temporary workers at Microsoft were entitled to
purchase Microsoft stock at a discount, a benefit given full-fledged Microsoft
employees.

"It's now very clear that Microsoft should immediately stop treating its temp agency
employees like second-class citizens," Stephen Strong, an attorney for the plaintiffs,
said at the time of the decision.

However, the ITAA brief states that the Ninth Circuit's decision relies on a "dual
employer" rationale that is "unworkable and unprecedented in the employee benefits
context." Additionally, the brief states that the Court's decision fundamentally guts
the traditional, common-law test of employment status.

"To let this decision stand would severely undermine the information economy. It
flies in the face of how a growing number of Americans prefer to contract their
professional skills to the marketplace," ITAA President Harris Miller said in a prepared statement.

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