San Francisco’s District Attorney has joined a growing chorus of California regulators and enforcement officials taking aim at gig economy companies for what they see as the misclassification of workers as contractors.
The chief prosecutor announced the filing of an employee protection action against DoorDash alleging the company has and continues to illegally misclassify its delivery workers as independent contractors when, in fact, they are employees. The action seeks restitution for workers, an injunction requiring DoorDash to properly classify its delivery workers as employees, and civil penalties.
DoorDash is a business that delivers food, beverages and other items from local restaurants and stores to nearby customers. It refers to its delivery workers as “Dashers” and employs them to pick up orders from merchants and deliver them to customers. DoorDash is headquartered in San Francisco.
According to the complaint, misclassification is a major issue negatively impacting California workers. The California Supreme Court has discussed that misclassification is a “very serious problem” that was depriving “millions of workers of the labor law protections to which they are entitled.”
The California Legislature has stated that misclassification contributes to the rise in income inequality and the shrinking of the middle class.
Additionally, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently adopted a Resolution urging “City Attorney Dennis Herrera and District Attorney Chesa Boudin to seek immediate injunctive relief to prevent the misclassification of San Francisco workers as they seek to access basic workplace rights like paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and benefits provided under the San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance.”
Under California’s protective labor laws, workers are presumed to be employees and it is the employer’s burden to justify classifying workers as independent contractors.
The District Attorney also claims that “properly classifying employees is especially important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Dashers were already performing dangerous work, forced to navigate traffic conditions as quickly as possible to make their deliveries or risk being suspended or terminated by DoorDash. The job of a Dasher became substantially more perilous during this pandemic. Dashers have been deemed essential workers yet DoorDash does not even provide them with workers’ compensation insurance and prevents them from having access to paid sick and disability leave under state laws.”