Is AOL skirting worker-protection law with mass layoff?

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Last week, as you might already know, AOL laid off over 200 U.S.-based employees, the vast majority of them from its Manhattan-based media operation. But that’s not the full tally of those who will lose their jobs as a result of the merger with the Huffington Post because that media operation, like an increasing number of media firms, also utilizes dozens of so-called permalancers — freelancers who function much as staffers but file Form 1099s rather than W-2s with the IRS.

In announcing last week’s layoffs, AOL chairman Tim Armstrong made it clear that most freelance writers and editors will be let go. “Going forward, AOL will invest more heavily in our in-house editorial team and transition away from a reliance on freelance journalists,” he said in a memo.

While freelancers (also called contractors or contributors) have been invited to apply for staff jobs, most haven’t been told yet whether their current gigs will continue under the new regime. An AOL spokesman said those determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Full story: Is AOL skirting worker-protection law with mass layoff?