Misclassification of Independent Contractors – the Gig Economy

Many businesses in Massachusetts classify their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. In particular, businesses that rely on the “gig economy” to staff their services such as Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and GrubHub, engage in this practice.  By doing so, these businesses push much of the cost of running their business onto workers and avoid laws and regulations designed to protect workers.

These businesses often force workers to pay fees (such as franchise fees, customer complaint fees, etc.) which, by law, they are prohibited from charging to employees. They may also avoid obligations to reimburse workers for expenses such as gas, mileage and tolls – all expenses that employers must reimburse their employees.  Businesses that classify workers as independent contractors do not need to guarantee those workers a minimum hourly wage or overtime wages for hours worked in excess of forty per week.  Additionally, independent contractors are not generally entitled to worker’s compensation benefits if they are hurt on the job or unemployment benefits if they lose work through no fault of their own.  

Businesses save a lot of money by classifying their workers as independent contractors.  But many businesses, especially those that profit from the gig economy, misclassify their workers as independent contractors – meaning that those workers are actually “employees” and should be entitled to the protections the law guarantees to employees.

As a result, many of these businesses engage in widespread and rampant wage theft against their workers.  For example, misclassified gig workers are usually required to use their own personal vehicles to perform their work.  Furthermore, businesses often fail to reimburse workers for mileage and other travel expenses in violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act.  These and other exploitative practices illegally shift the cost of business onto the workers, resulting in unearned profit to owners and executives.

Contact a Massachusetts Wage and Hour Law Attorney Today

Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC is currently investigating the wage and hour practices of gig economy businesses such as:

  • Uber;
  • Uber Eats;
  • Lyft;
  • Instacart;
  • DoorDash;
  • Postmates;
  •  Amazon Flex;
  • LaserShip; 
  • TaskRabbit; and
  • Seamless. 

If you feel that you have been misclassified as an independent contractor by a gig economy business, contact the Massachusett wage and hour attorneys at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore today.  We can help you through the legal process.  Call (413) 785-1400.

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