News & Commentary

September 21, 2020

Randon Herrera

Randon Herrera is a student at Harvard Law School.

The US Labor Department is preparing to release a new federal framework for worker classification. As Bloomberg reports, DOL received approval from the White House regulatory office to publish the proposed rule in the Federal Registrar for public comment. The rule will be aimed at providing employers with a framework for determining whether their workers can be classified as independent contractors. In line with President Trump’s agenda, the rule is expected to provide a broad definition of who classifies as an independent contractor. The rule is expected to be finalized before the end of the current presidential term.

In California, the labor movement scored a minor victory against gig companies in the ongoing court battle over the state’s worker classification law, Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5). In the latest ruling, the court dismissed most of Uber and Postmates’ arguments that the law violates their constitutional rights. The court determined that, contrary to their claims, the gig companies were not unfairly singled out by the rule. The court concluded that the companies failed to prove that the rule served no legitimate government purpose. Further, there was no evidence that that law was enacted with “irrational animus” or “favoritism towards unions or other groups.” The plaintiffs will still have an opportunity to amend their constitutional claims by October 9, the court ruled.

Cybercriminals have reportedly stolen up to $1 billion in unemployment aid since the start of the pandemic. According to NBC, state and federal officials report that fraudsters are increasingly targeting state and federal unemployment programs, with their main target being Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Federal officials are currently investigating over 500 such cases of fraud across the country. In Colorado for instance, 75 percent of unemployment applications were deemed fraudulent in one month. The widespread fraud no doubt is partly why more than 12 million Americans are still waiting on needed benefits.

And finally, a large market research company is being sued for discrimination against women and people of color. In a proposed class action lawsuit filed against Independent Resources, Inc., two former employees claim the company gave women and employees of color more work, less pay, and fewer opportunities for advancement. The suit further alleges the company retaliated against the employees for speaking out about the issue. While the company has been vocal about diversity, none of its board members and only one of its ten executives is a woman.

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