Exploitation In The Gig Economy

For hard-won workers’ rights to be meaningful, workers must have access to them—including minimum wage, overtime, paid medical leave, protections from wage theft, anti-discrimination laws, and occupational safety protections. However, an increasingly large subset of workers is excluded from these laws and basic workers’ rights. This growing group includes workers classified as independent contractors, sub-contractors, and temporary (temp) workers—collectively referred to as gig workers. Corporations are structuring their businesses to employ gig workers so they can avoid their legal responsibilities and violate workers’ rights with impunity. With our latest research project, Exploitation In The Gig Economy, The Institute exposes the harms of misclassification, the dismantling of gig workers’ economic safety net, and the ways in which the gig economy perpetuates racial inequality, with an eye towards legal and policy solutions to achieve protection for all workers.

The Gig Economy By The Numbers

This presentation was delivered at the National Employment Lawyers Association’s 2020 Annual Convention, Community. Learning. Excellence. A primer on why The Institute has taken on the gig economy as our newest research focus, it discusses:

  • The harms of misclassification, including denial of workers’ rights and financial instability;
  • Alarming trends in the gig economy, including carve-outs and “temp outs”;
  • How workers of color are disproportionately harmed by these trends; and
  • How The Institute will tackle the issue of race and racism in the gig economy.

Spotlight On California: AB 5, Proposition 22, And The Fight For Gig Workers’ Rights

The fight for gig workers’ rights has come to a head in California, where gig companies are attempting to circumvent AB 5, California’s law to protect gig workers from misclassification. This article analyzes the harms of misclassifying gig workers, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; California’s attempt to remedy these harms; and Uber and Lyft’s response.

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