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Posts from November 2016.

Yesterday’s news that President-elect Trump (it still feels weird to write that, I gotta admit) selected Elaine Chao as his Secretary of Transportation was well-received in the sharing economy. Rideshare giants Uber and Lyft both indicated in press reports that they welcomed the appointment and looked forward to working with Chao. A deeper look tells us why.

For women, if you’re not leaning in at work, you’re leaning out, which could prove a career mistake (a concept introduced by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg). But if you’re leaning in, some women feel that they might tip over as they try to balance the demands of career and family, particularly in demanding industries, like finance, law, and technology. The gig economy seems to offer a third option in the form of freelance or contract work. And, according to studies, the number of women who embrace this work model surpasses the number of men.

Earlier this year, Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally, announced the formation of a new working group, comprised of Ms. McSally and several of her Republican colleagues, called the “Working Group on Women in the 21st Century Workforce.” By way of background, McSally spent 26 years in the U.S. Air Force before being elected to Congress. While in the Air Force, McSally was the first woman to fly in combat, as well as the first to command a fighter squad in combat.

Philadelphia, our nation’s fifth largest city – aptly nicknamed The City of Brotherly Love – just couldn’t decide whether it wanted to embrace the ride-sharing sector of the gig economy. Or, rather, like an ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend that you just can’t shake, Philadelphia seemed to embrace the ride-sharing sector of the gig economy only when it benefitted Philadelphia. Luckily for Philadelphians, however, on November 4, 2016, “progress” ultimately would prevail.

As my colleague Brooke Tabshouri pointed out earlier this month, one of the unique situations facing the sharing economy is that customers — not coworkers or employers — may be the primary or even sole bad actors when it comes to harassment and discrimination against independent workers.

It’s been a week since Election Day, and by now you should be in a position to wrap your head around the concept that Donald Trump will be our nation’s next president. Our firm produced a thorough examination of what workplace law will look like under President Trump, but that summary did not include any mention of the gig economy. So let’s address it here.

The sharing economy is attractive to many transgender employees who fear discrimination in traditional workforces. But are sharing economy employers required to provide them with any special protections? With the employment status of workers in the sharing economy in legal limbo, a question facing many employers is whether state and federal antidiscrimination laws apply to workers. Some states, such as California, specifically protect transgender individuals, and so any discriminatory action by a customer against a transgender individual will be prohibited by law. In most states, however, the situation is less settled.

On October 28, the Central London Employment Tribunal held that Uber drivers are not self-employed. As a result, the drivers are entitled to certain “worker” benefits, including paid holidays and a minimum wage. Under the law in England and Wales, “workers” occupy a middle ground between employees and the self-employed, with employees entitled to additional benefits such as severance in a reduction-in-force also known as redundancy pay (Scotland’s system differs). Workers are entitled to fewer benefits than employees, but have certain minimum protections, unlike the self-employed.

With the election just days away, some American voters are staunchly committed to one candidate while others remain hopelessly undecided. If you fall into the latter category, consider the candidates’ positions on the gig economy and their plans for the on-demand workforce before casting your vote.

I wrote an article about a recent case decided by the New York Court of Appeals – New York’s highest court – where the court ruled that non-staff instructors who taught yoga classes at the employer’s studio were properly classified as independent contractors, and not employees. The case is a boon to New York employers who appropriately use independent contractors, as it provides them with ammunition in dealing with a New York State Department of Labor that is ever increasingly aggressive in challenging employers’ independent contractor classifications. 

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