Uber vs. Berwick: Employee or Independent Contractor?

Uber vs. Berwick Employee or Independent ContractorModern transportation service company, Uber, has been making headlines recently over the debate of whether or not their workers are employees or independent contractors. As we move toward a more flexible, dynamic workforce, it is crucial to be aware of the terminology and what constitutes both when hiring out these workers. In addition, implementing a Staffing Professional Liability insurance program is advised to protect your business from any potential damages.

California recently ruled Uber workers are employees, not independent contractors as Uber has initially categorized them. Uber claims that they have no control over the hours worked and solely serves as the connection between the driver and the passenger. However, they are said to have acted in more of an employer/employee fashion.  For example, the Labor Commissioner’s Office wrote “Defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation. The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.” In other words, in order for Uber to qualify their workers as independent contractors, they would need to have minimal involvement in the execution of the service.

The misclassification lawsuit awarded Barbara Ann Berwick $4,152.20 in reimbursement and miscellaneous costs she spent while working for Uber from July to September 2014. While Uber appealed the ruling, we will have to wait to see how it plays out. If this becomes a trend and more workers want to take legal action, there are going to be plenty of repercussions for Uber and similar companies.

This example perfectly demonstrates how our current workplace structure is being challenged with these new innovative companies. Senator Mark R. Warner explained “Today’s ruling from the California labor regulators demonstrates why federal policy makers need to re-examine the 20th-century definitions and employment classification we’re attempting to apply to a 21st-century work force.”

These types of changes are undoubtedly going to continue to unravel over time, and staffing agencies are in a critical role to hire accordingly. Educating your staff and being mindful of the type of worker you place into the workforce is an important role. In order to better protect your company against liability claims, contact World Wide Specialty Programs today at (877) 256-0468 to see how we can serve you.

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