COVID-19 Exposes Another Downside of Independent Contractor Status
For decades, I’ve been successfully litigating cases against businesses that insisted my client was an “independent contractor” instead of an employee. Why? Because the companies saved money by avoiding the cost of protections like workers’ compensation.
Over the last decade, California has seen an explosion of app-based businesses like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash that regarded their workers as independent “gig” workers rather than employees.
In 2019, California stood firmly on the side of workers by enacting Assembly Bill 5, which seeks to protect “gig” workers with employee protections like workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer an injury.
Not surprisingly, the multi-billion dollar app-based companies went into full attack mode, claiming AB-5 would “jeopardize the freedom” of gig workers and are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat the law.
Then COVID-19 came to California.
Now “gig” workers aren’t so sure about the “advantages” of being an independent contractor. Here is an excerpt of an email I recently received from a “gig” worker group:
“We’re demanding the state officials protect gig workers during the coronavirus pandemic by fully enforcing AB5 and ensuring workers have access to benefits like paid sick leave, disability, family leave and unemployment insurance.”
Of course, as an employee, workers’ compensation benefits would be available as well, thanks to AB5.
What difference a month makes.