Gig Companies Celebrate a Southern IC Reboot

Gig companies like Uber Technologies Inc. and DoorDash Inc. celebrate new laws in the South that classify drivers as independent contractors.

Below is a summary of the legislative changes by state:

AL: For the purposes of unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation adds a new employment exemption for “marketplace contractors” who work with marketplace platforms (app-based service providers) so long as there is a written contract identifying the individual as an IC, the platform does not prescribe hours, the platform does not forbid working for competitors, the platform does not forbid engaging in any other occupation or business, the individual bears substantially all of the expenses, and the platform does not require the use of any particular tools unless required by law or for safety. (Note this exemption is not limited to transportation companies and could apply to gig apps like Taskrabbit.)

GA: Exempts from employment for the purposes of unemployment insurance services performed through a network company (app-based rideshare and delivery), so long as there is a written contract guaranteeing that the network company won’t prescribe dates, times of day, or minimum hours, require any individual to accept any specific requests, restrict an individual from working for other network companies, or restrict an individual from any other lawful occupation or business, and the network company complies with said contract.

WA: For the purposes of wage and hour claims, workers’ compensation, and family/medical leave, drivers are not employees of transportation network companies if the company does not unilaterally prescribe specific dates, times of day, or minimum hours, the company may not terminate the driver for not accepting a specific request, and the company does not prohibit the driver from working for competitors or any other lawful employment.  Transportation network companies must also have minimum per-minute and per-mile pay rates, and provide drivers with receipts containing detailed information on time, payment, and itemized deductions. The commissioner is to submit a report o the governor and the legislature by December 1, 2022, with suggestions as to how transportation network companies and drivers should be treated for unemployment purposes. These laws are limited in application to rideshare companies and don’t apply to delivery companies.

MA: No changes. The state supreme court blocked certification of a referendum implementing similar changes on the grounds that it would affect too many different subjects to be covered by a single question, primarily because it would affect not only employment law but also vicarious liability tort law.

FL: Certain actions, if taken during a public health emergency or another state of emergency, cannot be used as evidence in an action relating to workers’ compensation,  retaliation, minimum wage violation, or any claim to recover lost wages, salary, benefits, or other compensation, alleging that an individual has been misclassified as an employee. These actions are: providing financial assistance to a worker who cannot find work because of health or safety; providing benefits related to health and safety directly to workers, such as medical supplies, personal protective equipment, or medical tests; providing health and safety training workers or the public; or any action required or suggested by any federal, state, or local law, ordinance, order, or directive intended to protect public safety.

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