Employment Rights in the Platform Economy: Getting Back to Basics

42 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2015 Last revised: 9 Sep 2016

See all articles by Brishen Rogers

Brishen Rogers

Georgetown University Law Center

Date Written: March 20, 2016


The employment status of workers for “platform economy” firms such as Uber, Lyft, TaskRabbit and Handy has become a significant legal and political issue. Lawsuits against several such companies allege that they have misclassified workers as independent contractors to evade employment law obligations. Various lawmakers and commentators, pointing to the complexity of existing tests for employment and the costs of employment duties, have responded with proposals to limit platform companies’ liability. This article steps into such debates, using the status of Uber drivers as a test case. It argues that Uber drivers may not fall neatly into either the “employee” or the “independent contractor” category under existing tests. Nevertheless, an important principle underlying those tests — the anti-domination principle — strongly indicates that the drivers are employees. That principle also indicates that proposals to limit platform economy firms’ liabilities are premature at best and misguided at worst.

Suggested Citation

Rogers, Brishen, Employment Rights in the Platform Economy: Getting Back to Basics (March 20, 2016). Harvard Law & Policy Review, Forthcoming, Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-33, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2641305 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2641305

Brishen Rogers (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Ave
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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