Employee Rights Briefing
December 2020
The Institute In 2020
This year, the Institute debuted Exploitation In The Gig Economy. This project aims to expose the harms of misclassification, the dismantling of gig workers' economic safety net, and the ways in which the gig economy perpetuates racial inequality, with an eye towards legal and policy solutions to achieve protection for all workers. The Institute has launched the project's first two research pieces: “The Gig Economy By The Numbers” and “Spotlight On California: AB 5, Proposition 22, And The Fight For Gig Workers’ Rights.” Both pieces are available on The Institute’s website.

The Gig Economy By The Numbers
This presentation is a primer on why The Institute has taken on the gig economy as our newest research focus, and discusses:
  • The harms of misclassification, including denial of workers’ rights and financial instability;
  • Alarming trends in the gig economy, including carve-outs and “temp outs”;
  • How workers of color are disproportionately harmed by these trends; and
  • How The Institute will tackle the issue of race and racism in the gig economy.
Spotlight On California: AB 5, Proposition 22, And The Fight For Gig Workers’ Rights
The fight for gig workers’ rights has come to a head in California, where gig companies are attempting to circumvent AB 5, California’s law to protect gig workers from misclassification. Uber, Lyft and other online gig companies spent millions of dollars on Proposition 22, a California ballot measure to exempt these companies from AB 5 and make it even more difficult for their workers to be classified as employees. The bulk of this money has funded an aggressive misinformation campaign around AB 5 and misclassification. This article analyzes the harms of misclassifying gig workers, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; California’s attempt to remedy these harms through AB 5; and Uber and Lyft’s misinformation campaign.
The Institute appreciates all of your support and looks forward to bringing you more content on the gig economy in 2021!
In The News
National Nurses United surveyed more than 15,000 nurses nation-wide and found that 11 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, nurses are still not being provided with adequate PPE.
A number of important issues surrounding workers' rights were on this ballot in the 2020 election. In California, voters passed Proposition 22, which exempts rideshare companies from state law and permits them to classify their drivers as independent contractors; in Florida voters increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the course of six years; and in Colorado voters adopted 12 weeks of paid medical and family leave.
With the passage of Proposition 22 in California, Uber and Lyft will likely push for similar laws in other states.
On November 12, a former employee suing Goldman-Sachs for an alleged sexual harassment cover-up condemned the company for attempting to force her to arbitrate her claims. She argued that forced arbitration silences women, and criticized one of Goldman-Sach’s defense attorneys, Times Up co-founder Roberta Kaplan.
On November 12, a former Amazon Inc. warehouse worker filed a class action alleging that Amazon’s inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately endangered workers of color.
On November 17, the EEOC released updated religious discrimination guidance for public comment. The guidelines clarify protections afforded to religious employers and Title VII protections against religious bias.
Workers' Rights By The Numbers
$2.5 Million
The amount of COVID-related workplace safety fines issued by OSHA since the pandemic began. (Society for Human Resource Management)
$35.6 Million
The amount of recovery payments the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs brought in for fiscal year 2020—the second-highest total
in its history.
In The Courts
On November 12, the First Circuit held in Students for Fair Admissions v. President & Fellows of Harvard that Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy did not violate anti-discrimination law.
On November 13, the Supreme Court added the case Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid to its docket. The case concerns whether union organizers can enter the property of agricultural growers to recruit farm workers.
The Employee Rights Briefing is a monthly newsletter designed to help keep you up-to-date on breaking news and emerging trends impacting America's workers. From the growth of forced arbitration of employment disputes, to employee misclassification, to stories of wage theft and workplace discrimination, the Employee Rights Briefing reports on employment law and policy developments from the federal government to state legislatures to the courtroom and everywhere in between. Our goal is to provide you with a digestible snapshot of the events shaping employment law and policy, so that you can be kept abreast of the most important issues facing today's workers.
The Employee Rights Advocacy Institute For Law & Policy
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(415) 296-7629 | info@employeerightsadvocacy.org