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Gig company workers classified as contractors have no protections

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Gillian Smith

The U.S. Labor Department said Tuesday that a gig company’s workers are contractors, not employees — a move many see as a benchmark for the relationship between workers and employers in the burgeoning gig economy. As a result, the unidentified company would not have to offer minimum wage, overtime or pay any Social Security taxes for workers.

Linda Donahue

Associate Director of Government Relations, The Worker Institute

Linda Donahue, an employee misclassification expert at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, says those who work for gig companies should be considered essential employees. Additionally, Cornell's Worker Institute today released a report on the experiences of people who find work through online platforms in New York state.

Donahue says:

“As independent contractors, workers are deemed to be self-employed and therefore are not covered by any employment laws. So, they have no protections at all should they attempt to organize, claim discrimination or get injured or killed while working.

“It is ludicrous to maintain that those who work for a gig company are not essential to the business.

“Workers should, frankly, refuse to work for these digital platforms. But, given that wages are stagnant while debt is high, I understand why workers are chronically looking for new income. Hence, the huge numbers of workers buying lottery tickets.”

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