Uber and the Not-Quite-Independent Contractor

uber carFrom Bloomberg View, Justin Fox writes about the complexity of the properly classifying a worker as an employee or independent contractor and the fact that the current classifications aren’t enough. He shares some of the history including recent suggestions about separating worker protections from full-time employment and creating a new type of worker, a “dependent contractor.”  Justin writes:

“Here’s Supreme Court Justice Wiley Blount Rutledge in 1944:

Few problems in the law have given greater variety of application and conflict in results than the cases arising in the borderland between what is clearly an employer-employee relationship and what is clearly one of independent entrepreneurial dealing.

This was in the majority opinion in National Labor Relations Board v. Hearst Publications, in which the court backed up an NLRB decision that, for the purposes of collective bargaining, newsboys who delivered or sold newspapers should be classed as employees. Three years later Senator Robert Taft tried to make it clear with the Taft-Hartley Act that no, they were independent contractors. But he didn’t make it quite clear enough — newspaper publishers are still losing lawsuits to news carriers who say they were misclassified as independent contractors.

Along the way, the focus has shifted from collective bargaining to benefits and worker protections. Only 6.6 percent of U.S. private-sector workers were union members in 2014 — down from 24.2 percent in 1973. But those classed as employees now enjoy a wide variety of federal, state and local protections, from minimum-wage and overtime laws to unemployment insurance, that aren’t available to independent contractors. Most of the lawsuits and regulatory enforcement actions, then, are about wages, expenses and benefits that workers would have gotten had they been treated as employees rather than contractors….”

Read the full story at Uber and the Not-Quite-Independent Contractor

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