Whether gig workers should be considered employees or independent contractors affects many workplace rights, including access to healthcare, the right to sick pay and paid time off, and other benefits offered to full time employees.
And there are a lot of gig workers – potentially as much as 43% of the US workforce. These men and women bring our food, shuttle us from Point A to Point B, watch our pets, move our things, and generally make life easier and better all-around. Individuals who are hired to shoot photos at a wedding or clean a house are clearly contractors, but those whose work is the base of the business model – like Uber and Lyft drivers, for example – were reclassified as employees in California, under legislation known as AB 5. Uber, Lyft, and other large companies whose primary worker base are contractors fought back, and Prop 22 was born. In November, Prop 22 passed 58% to 42%, superseding the original law which classified gig workers as employees.
Gig workers are taking it back to the courts
Gig workers and unions, according to the Washington Post, have now filed a lawsuit to invalidate Prop 22 and restore the prior California laws and cases which favored an employee classification for gig workers. The lawsuit asserts that Prop 22 “violates the state constitution and limits the powers of legislators to provide labor protections they are authorized to grant.”
The lawsuit was filed with the California Supreme Court. The plaintiffs argue “that the proposition unconstitutionally defines what comprises an amendment to the measure, as well as violating a rule limiting ballot measures to a single subject to prevent voter confusion.” Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and other companies oppose the lawsuit. They argue 10 million voters voted in support of Prop 22 “to protect driver independence.”
Prop 22, in addition to classifying gig workers as independent contractors, included some limited benefits including a “wage promise” and a health insurance stipend.
The union and gig workers especially object to Prop 22’s provisions which require “a seven-eighths legislative supermajority to amend and even define what constitutes an amendment. That authority, they say, is vested with the courts.” The plaintiffs argue that the Supreme Court should determine what constitutes an amendment. They also argue that propositions should have just one subject to avoid confusion – and that Prop 22 had multiple subjects by “burying these cryptic amendment provisions on subjects not substantively addressed in the measure, and in language that most voters would not understand.”
Contractor vs. employee injuries
Generally, employers who are injured at work must file a workers’ compensation case but can’t necessarily file a personal injury claim. Injured independent contractors can file personal injury claims against employers. The employee vs. independent contractor status affects many other employee rights, too, including when and how the workers can be fired and the right to sick pay.
There are several trade-offs. In workers’ compensation cases, there is no need to prove fault. Injured employees can’t seek pain and suffering damages and they are only paid part of their lost wages. In personal injury cases, injured contractors do need to prove fault. They can claim pain and suffering damages and they are entitled to all their lost wages.
At Biby Law Firm, we represent victims of personal injury accidents and workplace accidents. Our lawyers understand how critical it is that every aspect of your life – work, family, and play – be as safe as possible. We hold employers, drivers, construction sites, property owners, oil companies, nursing homes, and others accountable when their negligence causes you harm.
For help with any type of accident, whether you’re an employee, a contractor, or away from work, we have the experience and resources to help you get the full recovery you deserve. To speak with one of our experienced Tulsa injury lawyers, call us at 918-574-8458 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.