Washington Law Review

Comment

Ridesharing's House of Cards: O'Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc. and the Viability of Uber’s Labor Model in Washington

October 30, 2015 | 90 Wash. L. Rev. 1431

Abstract: Ridesharing companies, namely Uber and Lyft, have taken the transportation market by storm. These companies offer a competitive alternative to taxis through using smartphone apps and more efficient service offerings. As part of their business model, ridesharing companies treat their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees to minimize labor costs. However, drivers do not benefit from remedial labor statutes and thus (1) must pay for operating costs, (2) are not guaranteed a minimum wage, and (3) do not receive overtime pay. In O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc., a class of California Uber drivers are challenging their independent contractor status under California law. The test used by California courts to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee differs slightly from the test that Washington courts apply. In 2012, the Washington State Supreme Court adopted a worker-friendly "economic realities" test for determining whether workers are in fact independent contractors. Applying the lessons from O’Connor to Washington independent contractor law, this Comment calls into question the viability of Uber’s labor model in Washington.

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