New Yorkers are likely quite familiar with the Uber ride-sharing service. But what you may not realize if you are sitting in the back seat of an Uber or clicking through the app is that the driver you call on is at the center of a national discussion about employment categorization.
Disputes have arisen recently over whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors. Recently, a lawsuit was settled that perhaps got everyone one step closer to resolving this particular issue.
The lawsuit involved Uber drivers who sued Uber over their status and money they were owed.
At issue is to what payment drivers are entitled. When people are classified as employees, they qualify for benefits like workers’ compensation, minimum wage, overtime pay and other worker protections. When it comes to independent contractors, however, fewer protections exist though there is more flexibility and freedom.
In this case, the two sides agreed to a settlement that involved Uber paying plaintiffs at least $84 million.
However, the issue is far from resolved. As noted in this article in the New York Times, there are still many pending cases involving drivers, Uber and employment classification. The company has evidently promised to make changes that support their argument that drivers are independent contractors, but there is still considerable room for disputes to arise.
If you are dealing with a similar situation, as either a worker or an employer, you need to understand that making the distinction between employee and independent contractor is quite important. Properly identifying workers will have a significant impact on wages, worker protection and other elements of the responsibilities and relationships between workers and employers.
Should you have any questions about the factors that define an employee or an independent contractor, or if you believe your rights have been violated, it can be crucial that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible to explore your legal options.