Is Your Uber Driver an Independent Contractor or an Employee? It Makes a Difference

Do Uber and Lyft merely provide an app, or a driver? For consumers, ordering car service — or lately, house cleaning, lunch delivery or dry-cleaning pickup — can be as simple as touching an icon on a smartphone. But when the people who actually do the work show up, are they merely independent contractors matched to consumers by a software company, or are they employees?

How we answer that question has consequences in terms of wages, benefits and on-the-job protections against safety hazards, as well as discrimination and harassment. The “sharing economy” is accelerating employers' drive to classify more and more workers as independent contractors. At hair salons and manicure establishments, at janitorial services and home care agencies, this old trick is posing real risks to our system of labor and employment laws.