August 18, 2020

In Case You Missed It: Senator Warren and Shannon Liss-Riordan CNBC Op-Ed: Gig Economy Companies Deny Workers Their Rights

"We need to respond to this [COVID-19] crisis by putting power in the hands of workers - and a key part of that is ending worker misclassification." "Misclassifying workers as independent contractors can be a popular tool for employers looking to strip workers of basic rights and protections to pad their own pockets. And if we don't act, this anti-worker practice will be embedded deep into our economy"

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan wrote an op-ed on about ending worker misclassification and putting power in the hands of workers during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.

Read the full op-ed here. Key sections below: 

The coronavirus pandemic has delivered a one-two punch to American workers - a public health emergency paired with a brutal economic crisis. Our country has lost millions of jobs and has already experienced some of the highest unemployment numbers since the Great Depression. Essential workers are risking their safety on the job, often without adequate protections. Senate Republicans have made shielding employers from liability, while dismantling federal labor protections, their top priority for the next relief package. We need to respond to this crisis by putting power in the hands of workers - and a key part of that is ending worker misclassification.


Instead of helping giant companies evade the law, we should follow the lead of states that have taken steps to protect workers. In Massachusetts and California, there are comprehensive laws in place and a stringent test to stop companies from misclassifying their workers. Known as an "ABC test" for the three conditions that must be met for a worker to be classified as an independent contractor, it's a clear, straightforward way to ensure that workers aren't denied rights and protections so companies can maximize their profits. Attorneys General Xavier Becerra and Maura Healy recently sued Uber and Lyft under this test for continuing to misclassify workers in violation of California and Massachusetts law, and a California judge has agreed that the drivers must be classified as employees under the test. We need to apply that test to federal laws like the National Labor Relations Act and Fair Labor Standards Act so it protects every worker.


Our country faces an unprecedented health and economic crisis, and our failure to protect workers has added fuel to the fire. If workers had more power at the onset of this crisis, companies might have implemented protections that would have slowed the spread of the virus. If workers had fair wages, families might have had more cushion to weather a recession. We can't change how this crisis started, but we can still change how we emerge from it.