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Economy

What the Uber Employee Ruling Means for the Future of Work

The accountability gap between companies and contract workers may be slowly closing.
Protesters yelling at a Uber office are reflected in the window of the building at a rally for fair wages in Seattle.
Protesters yelling at a Uber office are reflected in the window of the building at a rally for fair wages in Seattle. AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

A California Labor Commissioner has ruled that a former Uber driver was an employee of the ride-hailing behemoth, not an independent contractor, citing multiple examples where the company had acted more like an employer than the neutral “technology provider” it has long claimed to be. “The reality … is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation,” the Labor Commissioner’s Office wrote.

When the news broke yesterday, reporters were quick to magnify the scope of the ruling: “If Uber drivers are employees, that opens Uber up to higher costs, including Social Security, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance,” wrote the Guardian. “That could affect its valuation, currently above $40 billion, and the valuation of other companies that rely on large networks of individuals to provide rides, clean houses and other services.”