First Uber – Now Amazon – Independent Contractor or Not?
A few weeks ago I placed an order with Amazon Prime and selected the option for same day delivery. As promised, my order arrived late that afternoon. To my surprise the delivery was made by a driver in what appeared to be their own private vehicle. It was not a UPS or USPS truck.
It turns out that Amazon is using private drivers to handle some of its deliveries. Kind of like Uber. Also, similar to Uber, Amazon drivers have sued Amazon alleging they are employees, not independent contractors. The Los Angeles Times offered the detail of the California state court lawsuit over the weekend. In sum:
other drivers for Amazon Prime Now weren’t considered employees of Amazon or Scoobeez, its contracted courier company. Instead, they were treated as independent contractors — making them ineligible for overtime pay, mileage reimbursement, workers’ compensation and other protections given to employees under state and federal law.
We’ve discussed the tests for who is or is not an independent contractor. There are strength in numbers in these types of lawsuits and most attempt to proceed as a class action. It all comes down to money. It is much more expensive to employ folks as opposed to treat them as independent contractors. If these companies are forced to treat contractors as employees it will challenge the company’s business model. As a result the companies are going to fight these types of cases to protect themselves and lawyers will continue to look for these types of claims to purse. We will keep you posted on any developments but expect other cases to follow.