Vox Media agreed to a $4 million settlement over allegations it violated labor laws by underpaying SB Nation managers and content creators, according to court papers filed in a Washington D.C. federal court on Aug. 17.
The proposed agreement that needs approval by a judge covers three lawsuits brought by more than 460 current and former SB Nation site managers and contributors. SB Nation, Vox Media’s sports brand with more than 300 blogs, has been dogged by allegations its compensation methods violated federal and state employment law.
Lawyers across the three lawsuits will receive $1.3 million in the proposed settlement. Add in court costs and administrative costs, and that leaves $2.5 million that will be split up by the class members.
Site managers will get a median payout of between about $5,000 and $7,500. Contributors are slated to receive between about $2,100 to $2,500. The payouts will vary depending on the amount worked and where the workers lived — with class members in California and New Jersey receiving more over alleged violations of state law.
As part of the proposed deal, Vox Media will be released from claims it violated state and federal labor laws.
It’s a fraction of what lawyers who filed the lawsuits claim Vox Media was allegedly liable to pay out.
“In total, Plaintiffs estimate that Defendants’ total exposure would be, on the high end, approximately $14,317,711,” attorney James E. Goodley wrote in a filing. “More realistically, taking into consideration the litigation risks, Defendant’s defenses, and room for the courts’ discretion to decrease civil penalties … approximately $7,733,261. The total settlement of $4,000,000 represents about 28% of the maximum exposure and about 52% of the realistic damages for the three cases.”
The settlement does not include an admission of wrongdoing by Vox Media.
“Vox Media denies engaging in any unlawful conduct alleged in these three cases and continues to deny the claims and charges of wrongdoing and liability,” the settlement agreement states. “In addition, no court has determined that Vox Media is liable or that it otherwise engaged in any wrongdoing.”
An attorney who represented the current and former SB Nation workers declined to comment. A spokesperson for Vox Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
SB Nation, like other Vox Media properties, has seen layoffs and furloughs in recent months. Spencer Hall, one of SB Nation’s most prominent figures, took a buyout in June.