New York court says Postmates courier is IC, not employee

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Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) reports that a New York appellate court found a Postmates courier to be an independent contractor. It says:

The court’s 3-2 ruling reverses an earlier finding from the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board that Postmates couriers were employees and the company was liable for paying unemployment insurance as well as other remuneration.

In the New York case, Vega’s relationship with Postmates was terminated based on negative consumer feedback and/or fraudulent activity, according to the decision. Vega then applied for unemployment insurance.

The court noted in its ruling that in order to be a courier, a person only needed to download Postmates’ app and provide his or her name, telephone number, Social Security number and driver’s license number. There was no application or interview. Workers such as Vega were also not required to work at all and could set their own schedules — working as much or as little as they liked.

Other factors in its decision included that workers could work for direct competitors to Postmates, are free to choose a mode of transportation for deliveries, maintain their own transportation, are not required to wear a uniform and are not reimbursed for delivery-related expenses.

“While proof was submitted with respect to Postmates’ incidental control over the couriers, including, among other things,” according to the ruling, “the fact that Postmates determines the fee to be charged, determines the rate to be paid, tracks the subject deliveries in real time and handles customer complaints, in our view, such proof does not constitute substantial evidence of an employer-employee relationship to the extent that it fails to provide sufficient indicia of Postmates’ control over the means by which these couriers perform their work.”

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