We can be
your slingshot

Gig economy driver: Employee or independent contractor?

On Behalf of | Aug 15, 2022 | Workers' Compensation |

Attorney Mark R. Schmidt, a Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist, settled the Claim of a Delaware County Driver alleged to be an Independent Contractor.

In the new ‘gig economy’, drivers for companies such as Lyft, Uber, Door Dash, Grub Hub (etc), are labeled by their business as an independent contractor, rather than as an employee. After Covid, workers in other types of jobs can now work from home, and on their own schedule. Many businesses are re-classifying their workers as Independent Contractors, rather than employees. Independent contractors are not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they suffer injuries while performing “their job”. The business saves the cost of insurance (workers’ comp., health and medical) as well as avoiding contributions to retirement plans, payroll costs, taxes etc. etc. They pay their workers by way of a 1099 form rather than by means of a W-2. HOWEVER, the way a business chooses to label and pay their workers does NOT make it true. The IRS, insurance companies and the Court will review the facts of any given case and the COURT has the final say on whether a worker is an Employee or Independent Contractor. The facts of each case will reflect whether the business exerts control over the worker, to such a degree that they are not ‘independent’. In one field of work the issue has become so problematic that Pennsylvania’s General Assembly created the Construction Workplace Misclassification Act outlining the factors to be considered by the court. By analogy, those factors are ‘argued’ by lawyers representing workers in other types of businesses, and in regard to other types of issues beyond just workers’ compensation. In many states, and in regard to issues such as Unionizing, Fair Wage and Labor Laws, and Workers’ Compensation, a handful of lawyers are taking on cases to challenge these financially strong and politically connected businesses to pursue the Rights of Workers.

Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias is one of these law firms.

A driver for a ride-share service was referred to Schmidt by another law firm (after first asking one of the Big TV commercial/billboard type laws firms – who declined the case). Schmidt accepted the case with one of two goals in mind, both explained in detail to the client (and explained here below). The client’s priorities are always the lawyers duty to honor. It is one of Schmidt’s pet-projects to advance a case for a ride-share or food delivery driver to the higher appellate courts, “to change the law”, and have ALL of these workers classified as employees, to obtain rights beyond just workers’ compensation. (The first goal). For context, a workers’ compensation case is first decided by a Workers’ Compensation Judge (dedicated to only workers’ compensation cases). An appeal goes to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board, and the next level advances to the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. A final chance of appeal would go to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, but only with that court’s “permission’, based on a Petition outlining the public significance of the issue involved. Cases decided by the Commonwealth and Supreme Court are then binding on every lower Court and Judge.

Attorney Schmidt took the deposition of the driver, and fully outlined his evidence, strategy and argument to the attorney representing the ride-share service. They then KNEW the intent was not merely to obtain a low-ball settlement. The goal was to advance the case to the Higher Courts. Rather than risk an outcome that could affect every worker and every ride share business, the defendant offered a (more than fair) settlement offer (which was goal number 2).

If your case has been denied on the basis of being an Independent Contractor, contact the Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists (pursuant to PA Bar Assn and PA Supreme Court requirements) at Schmidt, Kirifides & Rassias for a for a free, no obligation consultation. We are “David” taking on the “Goliath” businesses and insurance companies to protect YOU RIGHTS. Call us at 610-601-5399 on contact us online.