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Google Is the Latest Defendant in Employee/Contractor 'Misclassification' Lawsuit

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By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on November 04, 2015 5:59 AM

New lawsuits related to the on-demand economy. For years, the 'gig' economy has been both lauded and decried by some as the new economic paradigm. It seems to have gotten people working again.

But not without controversy. The latest company to feel the misclassification lawsuit hurricane is none other than Google. According to Reuters, Anna Coorey, a contract driver for Google Express, is poised to sue the search engine company for overtime pay and expenses, arguing that she should be classified as an employee, not a contractor. Other plaintiffs have joined in the lawsuit and will be treated as a class.

The Google case follows in the wake of the Amazon lawsuit filed October 27th. In it, plaintiffs are suing the mega-retailer based on similar factual allegations. Delivery startups DoorDash and GrubHub were served court papers in late September.

Primed and Ready

Like many contractors, Coorey was hired as an independent contractor but wore a Google Express uniform and was required to truck only Google packages. She alleges that because of this, she and other drivers like her have been misclassified as contractors and should be granted employee status instead. No comment from Google at this time.

Lichten and Liss-Riordan

All eyes are on the law firm who brought the Google lawsuit: it was also the same firm that brought other on-demand suits against Uber and Lyft. Shannon Liss-Riordan, an employment rights lawyer based on Boston reacts incredulously when companies claim that market conditions force companies to hire contractor services. "I don't know how Uber can argue with a straight face that as a $40 billion dollar company it can't afford to [hire workers as employees]."

On-Demand Economy

If Coorey prevails, it could send shockwaves not only throughout Google, but also through other companies who rest on essentially the same business model.

The past few years have seen major changes in employment schemes for many people. From the standpoint of employers, the on-demand model is great because it allows the company to hire contractors to do much of the same work as the employee whilst also saving on employee benefits. From the standpoint of the employee, the choice is very often made for them: you can work, or not.

For now, most companies will likely charge on. Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, right Google?

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