New Zealand Uber ruling. The New Zealand Employment Court in a landmark ruling held that four drivers for work services platform Uber are, in fact, employees and not independent contractors, which would entitle them to worker rights and protections.

While the ruling applies directly to the four drivers, the court noted that it may have wider implications for drivers across New Zealand, and a union involved in the case is already accepting Uber drivers as members.

“It may well have broader impact, particularly where, as here, there is apparent uniformity in the way in which the companies operate, and the framework under which drivers are engaged,” Chief Judge Christina Inglis said.

The drivers in the case — Julian Ang, Mea’ole Keil, Nureddin Abdurahman and Praful “Bill” Rama — took Uber to court through unions E Tū and First Union asking for a declaration that said they were employees, according to NewsClick.

“This is a landmark legal decision not just for Aotearoa [New Zealand] but also internationally,” Anita Rosentreter, First Union strategic project coordinator, told The Guardian. In light of the verdict, she said, First Union was now accepting Uber drivers as members and would move to initiate collective bargaining.

A spokesperson for Uber said the company was “disappointed” and would appeal the decision. The spokesperson added that it was “too soon to speculate” on whether New Zealand’s drivers having employee status would affect the company’s operations in the country more broadly.

“We are reviewing the decision in detail and will be filing an appeal,” the spokesperson for Uber in Australia and New Zealand said.

Last year, Uber lost a landmark legal case in the UK Supreme Court. This year, Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court upheld a ruling that drivers for Uber must be considered employees, while the ride-sharing firm must be considered an employer.

Instacart $46.5 million settlement. Instacart agreed to pay $46.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott that sought restitution for California workers classified as independent contractors. Elliott’s office announced the settlement earlier this month. The suit was first filed in 2019.

Instacart denied wrongdoing.

The settlement covers approximately 308,000 people in California who worked for Instacart from September 2015 through December 2020. Funds will be divided among workers based on the number of hours worked during that time period. Individual payments will reach thousands of dollars for the most active workers.

“My office will continue our fight for the rights of workers statewide,” Elliott said. “We hope other gig-economy companies will also do right by their workers.”

However, Instacart says it correctly classified workers at all times and that it did nothing improper.

“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with the city of San Diego,” Instacart said in a statement sent to Staffing Industry Analysts. “Instacart has always properly classified shoppers as independent contractors, giving them the ability to set their own schedule and earn on their own terms. We remain committed to continuing to serve our customers across California while also protecting access to flexible earnings opportunities for Instacart shoppers.”

The San Diego City Attorney’s office will contract with a fund administrator to create and publicize a website through which eligible Instacart workers can confirm their payment information.

In addition, the settlement includes more than $6 million in civil penalties, which will go into a consumer protection trust fund to be used for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.

The lawsuit is the first of its kind in the nation against a work services platform such as Instacart, according to the San Diego City Attorney’s office. It followed a California Supreme Court decision that put in place the tougher “ABC” test for determining whether independent contractors are misclassified. That test was later codified into law when the California Legislature passed a law called AB 5.

Pet care marketplace $18.0 million settlement. Rover Group Inc. will pay $18.0 million to settle a California lawsuit claiming independent contractor misclassification of pet caregivers on the part of its subsidiary, A Place for Rover Inc., according to a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Seattle-based Rover Group connects clients with pet care workers that provide pet sitting, dog walking and other pet care services.

Rover Group is not admitting any wrongdoing or liability in the settlement.

The settlement class comprises pet care providers who performed at least one service in California booked through the Rover platform from Nov. 1, 2018, through when the motion for preliminary approval of settlement is filed. The settlement also calls for more limited amounts to go to pet care providers with at least one service in California between Oct. 1, 2017, and Oct. 31, 2018.

The lawsuit was originally filed in August 2018. The lawsuit is Melanie Sportsman v. A Place for Rover Inc.