Cheerleaders for professional sports teams in California will have to be classified as employees eligible for overtime, sick days and other protections under a bill signed Wednesday by Governor Jerry Brown. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2016.
On July 15, 2015, the United States Department of Labor, through its Wage and Hour Division (DOL), issued an administrator’s interpretation stating that most workers do not qualify as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
The ruling by the California Labor Board should be weighed against the thousands of actions taken by various state and federal authorities which support the flourishing freelance economy. The ruling does not apply beyond Ms. Berwick and could be altered if Uber’s appeal succeeds.
The California Labor Commission ruled that Barbara Berwick, serial litigator and former Uber driver, was an employee of the company, not an independent contractor as the company claimed. And it ordered Uber to reimburse her a little more than $4,000 in operating expenses. Berwick was an Uber driver for eight weeks in 2014.
The settlement “sends a powerful message to employers in California and elsewhere that the cost of independent contractor misclassification can be financially punishing, if not catastrophic, to a business,” said attorney Beth Ross of Leonard Carder, a law firm representing labor unions and employees.
According to David Mack, director of public affairs at Lyft, the evolving nature of sharing-economy jobs means that perhaps a new method of classifying employees is needed—one that helps to provide some protection without burdening innovation.
Virginia’s occupational safety and health program (VOSH) is cracking down on employers who misclassify some workers as independent contractors. Under the new policy, if during safety inspections VOSH has reason to believe workers have been misclassified, the agency will request contractors and subcontractors to provide proof of their Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation license.