Gig Economy: Settlements Leave Labor Issues Unsettled
Companies in the sharing economy continue to encounter legal challenges to their business models and employment practices. Just last month, Uber Technologies Inc. settled two closely watched worker classification class actions for as much as $100 million. This Law360 Expert Analysis series explores how the sharing economy could work better, from the points of view of a former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Commerce, the general counsel of a New York City taxicab advocacy organization, an employment lawyer and an employment law professor.
Over the past few years, workers in the on-demand economy have filed numerous lawsuits in an attempt to lay claim to the benefits associated with employment status. In response, on-demand companies have countered that these workers, who may be part-time, contingent and set their own schedules, look more like independent contractors. In a recent paper that is part of a special issue of the Comparative Labor Law and Policy Journal, I created the below chart mapping these various litigations. The workers in these cases are performing jobs as diverse as driving, delivery services, errands, home repairs and various computer tasks. As noted elsewhere, the question of employee status has implications for collection of minimum wage, the ability to unionize, proper tax withholding, and the coverage of worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance.