Last week, judges in two independent contractor classification suits — those against Uber and Lyft — said juries must determine plaintiff’s employment status. The cases can have far-reaching repercussions for online staffing platforms and companies that use them and 1099 workers.
Drivers for Uber and Lyft sued each company respectively, alleging they were misclassified as independent contractors. The judges in each case noted the facts tended to lean more heavily toward the workers being employees, but still sent the cases for juries to make the final determinations.
Cases such as these are drawing scrutiny. And they follow other high-profile lawsuits in the staffing arena; in one case, a worker sued Google and online staffing firm Elance-oDesk. However, Elance-oDesk was dismissed from the lawsuit less than two months after the company was served.
End-user companies can find themselves on the hook for monetary damages resulting from a misclassification determination, especially in California. It is important to draft rules and expectations for independent contractors carefully, says Fiona Coombe, director of legal and regulatory research for Staffing Industry Analysts. How the rules are written in cases such as these may tip the balance in favor of the plaintiffs.