Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian released an advisory opinion today stating that “sharing economy” taxi services Uber and Lyft drivers are employees, not independent contractors. Therefore, the drivers should be afforded the protections offered by law, such as being paid for each hour worked, safe working conditions, and remedies for discriminatory practices, among others.
It’s important to note that this opinion is simply advisory. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries hasn’t actually had to review a specific case, with specific details. The Commissioner is simply reviewing what is already known, primarily based on California administrative and court cases, and stating what they would decide based on that information. The Commissioner says that Uber’s practices in Oregon are “substantially the same”. New information may change BOLI’s opinion, of course.
So what are the criteria BOLI looked at to get to this opinion? Be sure to read the whole memo yourself; it’s in clear English, with very little legalese and jargon. But it boils down to the fact that drivers for Uber do not run their own business; they’re dependent on Uber for infrastructure, marketing, and for finding customers. Drivers can’t even set their own price, which would let them manage their business to avoid loss and gain profits. Uber reserves the right to screen, hire, discipline, and terminate drivers; drivers don’t work on a project or time-based contract, but indefinitely.
Basically, Uber retains control of the business; drivers don’t.
I can’t wait to see what Uber and Lyft say in response to this, beyond the one quote I’ve seen that they dispute this finding.
Your move, “Sharing Economy”.