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The 'uber' important difference between employee and contractor

Readers of this blog should be aware that workers in Florida and all across the U.S. have rights that need protection. These rights ensure we are treated and compensated fairly.

But remember: People have different employment rights based on the type of worker they are. This means, for example, that a full-time employee will have legal protections and/or obligations that independent contractors do not. This distinction between employment types is what is at the crux of a legal dispute between Uber and its drivers.

If you are not familiar with this case, here is a brief summary of the case.

According to reports, Uber drivers in two different states filed lawsuits against Uber arguing that the company is treating them as employees but calling them contractors. Therefore, they argued, they should receive the compensation and benefits of regular employees.

Before the courts could make a decision on whether the drivers were in fact employees or contractors, the two sides reached an agreement. In accordance with the settlement, Uber will pay $100 million to the drivers involved in the class action lawsuit. It has also agreed to make and/or change certain policies that treat the workers as employees.

Again, this case did not end with a ruling on whether Uber drivers are contractors or employees, which means that similar disputes can continue to come up.

While you may not initially appreciate the significance of these cases, you should be aware that whether you are considered a contractor or an employee will have a significant impact on your rights. Depending on this categorization, you may or may not be eligible for workers' compensation or minimum wage; you may or may not have access to certain tax benefits; you may or may not have to comply with workplace policies.

Improper categorization could ultimately cost you benefits, compensation and other protections to which you may be entitled. If you have questions about how you are categorized or concerns that your rights are being violated, consulting an attorney sooner, rather than later, will be essential.

Source: CNBC, "Uber settles for $100M in lawsuit over driver status," Arjun Kharpal, April 22, 2016

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