There was a time when only pizza places and Chinese restaurants offered delivery. Now, services like Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and more have changed the way Americans order takeout. It’s the way of the future, but these newer companies and their employees have massive grey areas to navigate when it comes to the law.
Delivery drivers in this up and coming gig economy have already spoken out against labor law violations. While the arbitration agreements signed by gig workers often prevent them from forming class action lawsuits, there are ways these contractors can stick up for their rights and hold companies accountable. Here’s what you need to know.
Employees vs. Contractors and Gig Workers
The freedom to work the hours you choose comes with the price of being an independent contractor or gig worker. The terms are, for now, interchangeable. This status means you might not receive the same protections as an employee, such as minimum wage and overtime. If you drive for Uber, for instance, you don’t make any extra money when you work more than 40 hours in a week.
Arbitration agreements work to ensure these contractors cannot take any labor law claims to court, but that hasn’t stopped drivers from arguing the validity of these contracts and insisting on receiving the same basic rights as employees. Drivers have teamed up with lawyers to fight for their rights as workers, with some even relying on the aid of a civil litigation attorney for a class action lawsuit to help make their case heard.
Companies within the gig economy continue to add arbitration clauses to their work contracts for their own benefit. They are often hidden within contracts and feature complex wording to ensure drivers either don’t read or don’t understand them. Most bind you to resolving issues in private proceedings to ensure the company’s brand is never tarnished.
Unfortunately, the clauses themselves and how companies incorporate them are currently legal. Courts have ruled in favor of using these for contracted workers, stripping drivers of their right to form a class action lawsuit.
Fighting for Your Rights
While arbitration clauses are legal and enforceable, every contracted driver still has the ability to get what they’re owed. That goes beyond food delivery to groceries, dry cleaning, furniture, and even skilled trade services.
Companies routinely mislabel their drivers as independent contractors, something FedEx was found guilty of in a case study. This has paved the way for drivers to file claims against their classification instead of the contract. While a class action suit might be off the table, gig workers can still file these claims independently.
DoorDash now faces over 6,000 wage-and-hour violation claims. Postmates is facing more than 5,200, and drivers from other companies are following suit. As more claims arise, it won’t be long until government agencies investigate and the possibility for new laws protecting the labor rights of independent contractors rises. In the meantime, drivers and attorneys are working together to take these corporations head on.