The difference between workers and independent contractors…

….is being examined in the Uber lawsuit in California. This story in Salon describes the current status of suits against Uber and Lyft. Spoiler alert: judges in both suits have determined the cases must go to a jury trial.

One interesting element has arisen in this debate over who is an employee and who is a contractor, and that is whether the company (Uber, Lyft, and to some degree Amazon) has the ability to keep employees from earning money or to say another way, to terminate them from working. Both Uber and Lyft have standards that drivers must meet, or else the drivers are ‘deactivated’ (not allowed to use the app). Uber also says that drivers who refuse 90% or more of ride requests can be deactivated. And to quote the article:

This last point—the ability to “terminate” drivers who don’t comply with expectations—is perhaps the most compelling argument that Uber and Lyft drivers ought to be considered employees and not contractors.

And Amazon? While not mentioned specifically in this article, Amazon will block workers who don’t meet expectations. Individual requesters can refuse to pay as well as block. The results of these trials–while months away–will have implications for Turkers.

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