Uber Claims It’s Exempt From California Gig Economy Law Because It’s a ‘Platform,’ Not a Taxi Company

Photo: Mark Lennihan (AP)After the California legislature passed AB5, a bill designed to force tech companies to treat gig economy workers as employees rather than contractors, Uber has pulled an well-worn card out of its hat: inventing an excuse to just like, not do that.AB5 threatens Uber’s core business model because it could potentially force…

Uber Claims It’s Exempt From California Gig Economy Law Because It’s a ‘Platform,’ Not a Taxi Company

Photo: Mark Lennihan (AP)After the California legislature passed AB5, a bill designed to force tech companies to treat gig economy workers as employees rather than contractors, Uber has pulled an well-worn card out of its hat: inventing an excuse to just like, not do that.AB5 threatens Uber’s core business model because it could potentially force the company to treat its fleet of contract drivers as employees, which might entitle them to bothersome labor protections including minimum wage, health care, compensation for injuries suffered on the job, and the right to organize. It does so by codifying a three-part labor classification checklist applied by the Supreme Court in 2018 called the ABC test. One of those three tests is that for a company to classify a worker as a contractor, that worker must perform duties “outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.” Uber is a company that makes the Uber app. The Uber app has various functions, the core of which—ridesharing—generated $9.2 billion in revenue last year, far more than its other ventures like scooters, food delivery, and freight. It is patently obvious that individuals who drive Uber rideshares for Uber customers are engaged in the “usual course” of Uber’s business, and that Uber controls the terms of work for those drivers (minimum Uber ratings, Uber-set pricing and compensation, etc.), just like it is patently obvious that those other ventures are, too.Not so, says Uber! In its opinion, Uber’s “usual course” of business is being a “technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces.” Per the New York Times, that means it won’t be preemptively recl
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