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Posts from December 2016.

We’ve already provided a few insights into the impact that the recent presidential election will have on the sharing economy. We offered pre-election predictions, presented a preview of what we expect the gig economy to look like under President Trump, analyzed what the on-demand economy should think of Trump’s choice for Transportation Secretary, and most recently presented an assessment of how the new Secretary of Labor will impact the gig economy. So what more is there to say? As it turns out, plenty.

The legal theories that are being lobbed at Uber in wage-hour lawsuits across the country show no signs of letting up. Earlier this year, a group of certified limousine drivers in Eastern Pennsylvania who provide services through Uber’s “luxury” UberBLACK platform filed a FLSA suit for unpaid wages, including a claim that they were owed wages for on-call time while they were logged into the Uber app. Last week, in a colorful opinion that references Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” a federal judge green-lighted plaintiffs’ theory and ordered “expedited discovery” on the issue of compensability of the plaintiffs’ on-call time. 

Like many seasonal, temporary, part-time, and contract workers, a growing number of workers in sharing economy jobs are passing up on some of the features that often come with traditional, full-time employment relationships. Frequently, sorting out how to run these small, independent businesses is a difficult task for a lot of those who work on a gig-by-gig basis. Keeping track of deductible business expenses, forecasting budgets when gigs are irregular, or simply getting some basic guidance on how to run businesses in the micro-economy can be overwhelming. 

President-elect Donald Trump has announced the nomination of Andrew Puzder as the next Secretary of Labor. Mr. Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants (the parent company of Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s and Green Burrito), will head the U.S. Department of Labor, a federal agency that plays a major role in regulating employment matters and directing employment policy on the federal level. What should the sharing economy expect from Mr. Puzder? Some commentators believe that he will be a “big win” for the gig economy.

Much has been written about sharing economy companies such as Uber and the like whose very core is fueled by a contingent workforce connected to consumers through a digital platform. But a recent report stresses that even more traditional employers are “reshaping their talent management initiatives” with the understanding that the definition of “contingent labor” itself has taken on a whole new meaning. The report – “The State of Contingent Workforce Management 2016-2017: Adapting to a New World of Work” – was published by Ardent Brothers (in conjunction with SAP Fieldglass) and includes a wealth of knowledge for businesses trying to “thrive in this new corporate paradigm.”

As startups from Silicon Valley to Silicon Forest continue to flood the market with competing on-demand service platforms “staffed” with independent workers, these same businesses – implementing one of the most disruptive, innovative technological advances of the last decade – have been faced with mounting growing pains. Stuck between rigid 20th Century employment classifications and the more complex realities of modern work, many gig employers have found themselves facing “former employees” in court that they never hired, fired, met, or even worked with in a traditional capacity. For some companies, the pain is too much to stomach. 

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