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Posts from August 2016.

There’s a great scene in the Naked Gun movie where Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is trying to clear a crowd forming around a crime scene, except that the crime scene happens to be a fireworks factory on fire. While a massive pyrotechnic fireworks show is going on behind him, Drebin vainly yells to the gathering crowd, “Move along! Nothing to see here! Please disburse! Nothing to see here!”

Millennials are typically defined as those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Recent reports from the Pew Research Center estimate there are 75.4 million Millennials in the United States today, making them the country’s largest living generation – even bigger than the Baby Boomer generation. Current estimates show that the Millennial population is projected to peak in 2036 at 81.1 million. Until then, the numbers will grow with immigration, but afterwards, mortality is projected to outweigh net immigration. By 2020, Millennials are expected to make up 50% of the workforce.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen states and other local governments pass or introduce laws to regulate the gig economy. Most recently, for example, the city of Seattle passed a law allowing the unionization of app-based gig drivers, and California introduced similar legislation called the 1099 Self-Organizing Act which would allow gig workers the right to collectively bargain for benefits and wages. Massachusetts enacted a law which implements a new background check system for gig economy rideshare companies, and New York just passed a bill the will prohibit short-term rentals on Airbnb. 

The big news late yesterday was that the federal court judge overseeing the Uber class action litigation rejected the $100M settlement for being “not fair, adequate, and reasonable.” We wrote a detailed description of the decision on our website, and you can read it here.

I just wrote a detailed article about a recent federal court decision that upheld the validity of an employer’s class action waiver, forcing a disgruntled worker into arbitrating his case individually instead of using the court system to launch a large-scale class action. Typically, this kind of decision would not be particularly significant; after all, many businesses employ class waivers, and the overwhelming number of federal courts examining them have approved their use. But this case is noteworthy for a few reasons, one of which being that the decision involves the economy (Bekele v. Lyft, Inc.). You can check out the full article on our website, but here’s the quick summary for those of you in a hurry.

For the first time in recorded human history, one of the major political parties mentioned the gig economy in its national platform. The future is here!

Yesterday, a federal court judge in Seattle gave a boost to those who want to unionize the gig economy. The August 9 ruling could end up having widespread implications, although unionization efforts for gig workers still have numerous hurdles to overcome before they become law.

Tags: Labor, unions

In Season 3 of Netflix’s animated series BoJack Horseman, Todd (Aaron Paul) decides to start a gig economy company called “Cabracadabra.” This company provides Uber-like transportation but with only women drivers so that there is a “safe space” for women passengers in the transportation gig economy. Although this idea comes from a cartoon (and may have other problems in concept under various other antidiscrimination laws) it addresses a concern in the gig economy: consumer safety and vicarious liability. In other words, when someone is performing services in the gig economy for a consumer and something goes wrong, where does the consumer turn for recourse? Can gig economy companies avoid all responsibility for the acts of their contractors? 

Last week, the federal government released its monthly jobs report regarding job creation and current unemployment statistics. The Labor Department said that the U.S. economy added 255,000 new jobs, beating estimates (180,000) by a sizeable amount. The report also indicated that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%. Most were pleased with the report (with a certain presidential candidate excluded, of course), stating that the data showed a healthy amount of confidence in the economy by both investors and employers.

On August 5, 2016, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill governing gig economy rideshare companies such as Uber and Lyft – dubbed “transportation network companies” – which implements a novel new background check system, among other things. With this law, Massachusetts will join 34 other states that have passed comprehensive oversight for this new industry. The details of this compromise bill were hammered out between the House and the Senate at the eleventh hour, moments before Massachusetts’s legislative session came to a close on July 31.

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