According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), workers misclassified as independent contractors can now be found in nearly every industry, and the phenomenon has grown considerably with the rise of the gig economy. Uber, the ride-hailing company, has become the poster child for worker misclassification, with numerous lawsuits alleging Uber wrongly classifies its drivers as independent contractors.
By assigning the misclassification employers avoid paying payroll taxes and workers’ compensation insurance, are not responsible for providing health insurance, and are able to bypass requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act
Worker organization has been effective, especially in Los Angeles, where port truck drivers waged a multi-year campaign to expose the practice of misclassification. That effort, which has included multiple strikes, has been supported by a broad coalition of community groups, a potent combination that has played a crucial role in challenging the trucking industry’s “independent contractor” business model. The state’s labor commissioner alone has issued more than 300 decisions on misclassification in Southern California, and drivers have prevailed in every decision, winning over $35 million in back pay.