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.
May 2015 was one of the busiest months for independent contractor (IC) misclassification cases in the courts and administrative agencies. A new government report also suggests that 85% of independent contractors are content with their current classification, with 57% being very satisfied.
An Uber driver in Florida recently applied for unemployment benefits after they cancelled his account, but since he was classified as an independent contractor, he received no benefits and took Uber to court. The court ruled that the driver is an employee, which could be devastating to their business model. Uber still has the right to appeal this decision.
Construction contracts are up 7.5% over last year in Colorado, so the industry is growing faster than ever. The Avitus Group is taking a proactive approach by launching an online Q & A forum for businesses to know whether their workers are employees or independent contractors.