Judge Rules Gig Economy Worker Not an Employee

February 16, 2018

A first-of-its-kind ruling by a U.S. District Judge finding that a former Grubhub delivery driver was an independent contractor rather than an employee is seen as a victory for gig economy companiesalbeit possibly a temporary one as the ruling will likely be appealed to the California Supreme Court.  The lawsuit is one of several asking judges to decide whether workers in the gig economy are employees or independent contractors.  California courts analyze independent contractor status under a multifactor test that emphasizes an employer’s control over workers, and several secondary factors, including whether their work is supervised, whether workers supply their own equipment, and the skill required of them to perform their job.  Although the judge found that a few secondary factors suggested the worker was an employee, he ruled for Grubhub largely because the worker controlled when and how he delivered meals.  Meanwhile, the Georgia State House passed a bill (H.B. 789) that would classify drivers for Lyft, Uber, and other workers in the gig economy as independent contractors.  If H.B. 789 becomes law, Georgia would join other states, including Florida and Texas, in enacting such legislation.  Separately, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security, held a roundtable event to help draft legislation to create a retirement savings option for gig economy workers.