U.S. judge says Grubhub driver was independent contractor

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From Reuters, Daniel Wiessner reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said that a Grubhub drivers was an independent contractor.  Daniel writes:

A U.S. judge in San Francisco on Thursday said a former Grubhub Inc delivery driver was an independent contractor and not the company’s employee, in the first case of its kind against a “gig economy” company that went to trial.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley said Grubhub did not control Raef Lawson’s work, so it was not his employer under California law. The Chicago-based company did not supervise Lawson, tell him when to work, what kind of transportation to use or what routes to take, she said.

Noting that independent contractors do not receive any of the legal protections afforded to employees, Corley on Thursday said California state lawmakers “may want to address this stark dichotomy.”

Michele Maryott, a lawyer for Grubhub, said in a statement that ”delivery partners gravitate to Grubhub, rather than traditional employment, precisely because of the independence and autonomy they have over their workdays and over their businesses.”

Grubhub argued it was a software development company, and not a food delivery service, so workers like Lawson were not central to its business. That is a key factor in determining whether a worker is an employee.

Grubhub also said it did not have the control over drivers that is required to establish an employment relationship.

The case is Lawson v. Grubhub Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:15-cv-05128.

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