In recent months, the gig economy has increasingly been the subject of articles, blog posts, studies, and podcasts. In June, not wanting to miss the party, the U.S. Department of Commerce contributed a twenty-seven page paper on the subject, coining the new name “digital matching firms.”
Outspoken Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren isn’t known for mincing words. Whether she’s telling a big bank to “go to hell” from the floor of the Congress or calling Donald Trump a cancerous demagogue, she is anything but cagey or demure. Apparently, the feeling is mutual. Time suggested recently that “hardly any other legislator inspires the kind of vituperation that Warren does in her opponents.”
As we have discussed previously, Uber has been caught up in a number of public legal disputes. At the forefront of Uber’s legal issues are ongoing disputes over whether Uber drivers will be considered employees or independent contractors under federal and state wage and hour laws. But another issue is primed to take the spotlight: Does Uber’s pricing model violate antitrust law?
The year is 2020. In a futuristic America plagued by employment lawsuits, the federal government sanctions a three-year period in which all gig economy companies are exempt from labor and employment laws. Internet-based platforms connecting workers with eager consumers must try to not only survive but thrive through the temporary exemption without compromising their moral code.
It is estimated that more than one in three Americans currently perform some freelance work, whether as a supplement to their day jobs, or as their full-time gig. We all know (because the media tells us) that millennial workers are flocking to freelance work. But a changing work culture means that more experienced workers are also embracing “free-range employment,” either by choice or necessity.
Just last week, Airbnb, an online marketplace for people to list, find and book lodging around the world, permanently banned a host in North Carolina after the host cancelled an African-American guest’s reservation and used racial slurs against her.
Earlier this week, I coauthored an article for our firm’s publications page about the first federal court in the country to strike down a class action waiver in an arbitration agreement. The decision in Lewis v. Epic Systems could end up being very bad news for gig employers.
The paradigm shift in labor and employment laws forced by the gig economy continues to develop as quickly as our technology. With the monumental decline in union organization over the past few decades, national unions recognize the potential for increasing membership by exploring how to unionize these new age workspaces.