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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Matters Settled but Not Resolved: Worker Misclassification in the Rideshare Sector


A recent innovation, the ride-share sector, is the fastest growing sector of the sharingeconomy. These companies provide drivers with a mobile-based platform to find a fare and take a cut of the same, discouraging cash tipping. As advertisements for the companies suggest that these drivers can make anywhere between $20-$40 per hour, it’s no surprise that the companies are welcoming throngs of workers suffering in a sluggish economy and searching for a way to make ends meet, advertising themselves a potential vehicle for micro-entrepreneurial opportunity that allows workers to have more control and flexibility at work.

This paper provides a brief examination of the relevant legal framework as concerns the misclassification of rideshare drivers; recent misclassification decisions in Oregon, Florida, and California; and the recent Uber and Lyft settlements. This analysis considers the way ridesharedrivers are impacted by the fact that no one determinative test concerning misclassification exists, and looks at the ways in which different jurisdictions have come to different conclusions regardingthe same set of workers. The article focuses on key similarities between the major misclassification tests and the essentially uniform company policies and practices applicable to each individual company’s workforce, to provide a meaningful review of the relevant facts which can guide the decision-making processes of courts, policymakers, and other stakeholders, as well as research that concerns worker classification in the ridesharing sector. This analysis reveals that upon close examination, ride share drivers are indeed misclassified as independent contractors, when in fact they are employees.

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