Exploitation In The Gig Economy

For hard-won workers’ rights to be meaningful, workers must have access to them—including minimum wage, overtime, paid medical leave, protections from wage theft, anti-discrimination laws, and occupational safety protections. However, an increasingly large subset of workers is excluded from these laws and basic workers’ rights. This growing group includes workers classified as independent contractors, sub-contractors, and temporary (temp) workers—collectively referred to as gig workers. Corporations are structuring their businesses to employ gig workers so they can avoid their legal responsibilities and violate workers’ rights with impunity. With our latest research project, Exploitation In The Gig Economy, the Institute exposes the harms of misclassification, the dismantling of gig workers’ economic safety net, and the ways in which the gig economy perpetuates racial inequality, with an eye towards legal and policy solutions to achieve protection for all workers.

The Gig Economy By The Numbers

This presentation was delivered at the National Employment Lawyers Association’s 2020 Annual Convention, Community. Learning. Excellence. A primer on why The Institute has taken on the gig economy as our newest research focus, it discusses:

  • The harms of misclassification, including denial of workers’ rights and financial instability;
  • Alarming trends in the gig economy, including carve-outs and “temp outs”;
  • How workers of color are disproportionately harmed by these trends; and
  • How The Institute will tackle the issue of race and racism in the gig economy.

Spotlight On California: AB 5, Proposition 22, And The Fight For Gig Workers’ Rights

The fight for gig workers’ rights has come to a head in California, where gig companies are attempting to circumvent AB 5, California’s law to protect gig workers from misclassification. This article analyzes the harms of misclassifying gig workers, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; California’s attempt to remedy these harms; and Uber and Lyft’s response.

Read more

The Worst Of Both Worlds: The Implications Of Prop 22 For Workers In California And Beyond

During the November 2020 election, California voters passed Proposition 22 (“Prop 22”) after gig companies like Uber and Lyft waged a multi-million dollar campaign encouraging voters to vote “yes.” California workers are already beginning to witness the terrible effects of Prop 22, and unfortunately, things can (and likely will) get much worse.

Read more

No Due Process, No Rights: How Forced Arbitration Enables Misclassification In
The Gig Economy

Our in-depth white paper contains an intersectional analysis of the impact forced arbitration has on gig economy workers. In addition to addressing the prevalence of class action bans and other harms of forced arbitration, No Due Process explores how these harms intersect with the dimensions of gender, race, and class to make gig workers particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

Read more

Old Boundaries, New Horizons:
How Anti-Discrimination Law Can Better Protect Black Gig Workers In The Time Of COVID-19

The gig economy continues to garner attention in legal scholarship, social science research, and public discourse in general. The COVID-19 pandemic has also shed light on the plight of gig workers, and Black gig workers in particular. Gig workers are disproportionately Black and Latinx, especially in jobs with lower wages, fewer protections, and greater instability and risk. Presented at the United Association For Labor Education (UALE) 2021 Conference: Reimagining Workers’ Education to Transform the World, Old Boundaries analyzes the racial inequality that underpins the entire gig economy, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on gig workers, and how both factors uniquely harm Black gig workers.

Read more

© 2021 National Institute for Workers' Rights. All Rights Reserved.