Independent Contractor

An update from our neighbors to the north (with thanks to Chris Burkett, partner in our Toronto office):

In January, the Ontario Court of Appeal (in Canada) overturned the lower court’s decision in Heller v. Uber Technologies Inc., 2019 ONCA 1. The Court of Appeal held that an arbitration clause requiring arbitration in the Netherlands of disputes between drivers and Uber to be invalid and unenforceable. Based on the presumption that Uber drivers are employees of Uber, the Court of Appeal found that the arbitration clause was a prohibited contracting out of Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA). Continue Reading Canadian Court Invalidates Arbitration Clause Requiring Arbitration In Foreign Jurisdiction

On January 25, 2019, the National Labor Relations Board reaffirmed its adherence to the traditional common law independent contractor test for determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor under the National Labor Relations Act.

In SuperShuttle DFW, Inc., the Board expressly overruled its 2014 FedEx Home Delivery decision. In FedEx, the Board drastically reduced the significance of entrepreneurial opportunity in the determination of independent contractor status. FedEx emphasized the right to control factors relevant to the so-called “economic realities” test and gave weight to whether a worker was in fact “seizing” actual opportunities and rendering services as part of their own independent business.

SuperShuttle DFW, Inc. is significant as it abandons the Obama-era standard and gives a boost to companies using contract labor by elevating the importance of entrepreneurial opportunity in the independent contractor analysis. Insodoing, the Board returns the legal framework to its traditional common law roots and adds the examination of entrepreneurial opportunity. The decision suggests that moving forward, the Board “evaluate the common-law factors through the prism of entrepreneurial opportunity when the specific factual circumstances of the case make such an evaluation appropriate.”

Continue Reading Emphasizing “Entrepreneurial Opportunity,” The NLRB Returns To Business-Friendly Independent Contractor Test

With the modern workforce comes modern employment problems. Businesses and workers alike have embraced the “gig economy,” but employment laws were not designed for workforces dominated by independent contractors and freelancers. This disconnect leaves gig economy businesses open to significant liability where such workers should have been classified as employees under the law.

Continue Reading New York Delivers Good News For Independent Contractors, But Risks Remain

Originally posted in the Daily Journal.

The California Supreme Court recently made a sweeping change to California’s gig economy. In Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, the Supreme Court ruled that in deciding whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the employer must begin by presuming that the worker is an employee or an independent contractor, the employer must begin by presuming that the worker is a common law employee.

Although the Dynamex ruling is limited to classifying workers under California’s wage orders, its practical effect will be much broader. Employers commonly use one definition of employee for wages, hours and working conditions, including employee benefit plan eligibility. The impact of the Dynamex decision on employee benefit plans that are subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 is an open question. It will turn on the language found in each of those plans.

Click here to read on about the impact of the decision on employee benefit plans.

The Dynamex Case: A New Threat to Franchising? alerts franchisors to the California Supreme Court’s recent opinion in Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County.

Although not a franchise case, the decision cites two cases that used the ABC test to determine that franchisees were employees of a franchisor, not independent contractors. Assuming the Dynamex test is applied to franchising, it could have far-reaching consequences for our franchise clients with operations in California.

Please click here to read more. Thanks to Ann Hurwitz and Emily Harbison for preparing this alert.

On April 30, the California Supreme Court issued an opinion radically changing the legal landscape for any company engaging independent contractors in California. Dynamex Operations West Inc. v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County changes the legal test for determining whether workers should be classified as employees or as independent contractors under California’s wage orders. The Court scrapped the multifactor, flexible test (known as “Borello”) that has been used in California for decades. It adopted the “ABC” test, a standard that has its roots in determination of unemployment tax status in other states and presumes workers are employees instead of independent contractors.

This extraordinary decision will have far-reaching consequences for California companies reliant on independent contractors and likely spur a landslide of litigation for years to come. As such, we are recommending that companies engaging independent contractors in California, in any industry, work with counsel to revisit classification decisions and undertake a cost/benefit analysis of reclassifying workers in the near term.

For more, please read our alert HERE.

On February 8, 2018, in what is believed to be the first time a gig economy case has been fully decided on the merits, a California federal judge ruled in favored in favor of the company and held that the delivery driver was properly classified as an independent contractor.

The opinion of US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley states that “[a]fter considering all of the Borello factors as a whole in light of the trial record, the Court finds that Grubhub has satisfied its burden of showing that Mr. Lawson was properly classified as an independent contractor.”

In rejecting the driver’s claim that he was actually an employee entitled to minimum wage, overtime and other benefits associated with employee status, the Court awarded the gig economy a significant victory.

Continue Reading Score One For The Gig Economy: California Federal Judge Upholds Independent Contractor Status Of Grubhub Delivery Driver

U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta announced in a June 7, 2017 press release that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has withdrawn two of its recent administrator’s interpretations. One of the administrator’s interpretations, issued in 2015, focused on the misclassification of employees as independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and indicated that the DOL would be more closely scrutinizing independent contractor classifications. The other administrator’s interpretation, issued in 2016, examined joint employment relationships under the FLSA. Both interpretations were widely considered to be an attempt by the DOL to expand the coverage and enforcement of the FLSA. The withdrawal of the guidance documents likely indicates a shift in enforcement focus of the DOL under the Trump administration.

To read more, click here.