DoorDash faces lawsuit from San Francisco DA over worker classification

The DA argues that its workers should be classified as employees under the law.

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San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin has filed a lawsuit against DoorDash for, in his own words, “illegally misclassifying employees as independent contractors.” California authorities have been putting pressure on companies like DoorDash, Uber and Lyft to classify their workers as employees — with rights to minimum wage and overtime, sick leave and mandated breaks — ever since Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed into law and took effect on January 1st.

Back in May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued Uber and Lyft for a similar reason: misclassifying drivers as contractors instead of employees. The California Public Utilities Commission also recently ruled that ride-hailing drivers should be classified as employees. Meanwhile, those companies are suing California and funding a ballot measure in an effort to block AB5 and make it legal for app—based services’ personnel to operate as contractors.

As TechCrunch notes, companies must pass what’s called the “ABC test” (PDF) to be able to legally classify workers as contractors. They must prove that workers are free from their direct control and do other work outside the scope of their business. Their workers must also be “engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed” for them. Boudin says DoorDash workers don’t pass the test.

In the lawsuit, the Attorney General’s office stated:

“DoorDash’s misclassification of workers was no mistake, but instead a calculated decision made to reduce the costs of doing business at the expense of the very workers providing the company’s core service of delivery: the delivery of merchandise from merchants to consumers.”

As for DoorDash, Global Head of Public Policy Max Rettig emphasized how the company provides earning opportunities during the pandemic in a statement sent to Mission Local:

“Now more than ever, Californians from all walks of life look to DoorDash for flexible earnings opportunities, working on average a few hours per week. Throughout the pandemic, DoorDash has supported Dashers on and off the road with free safety equipment, telemedicine, earnings replacement, and more. Today’s action seeks to disrupt the essential services Dashers provide, stripping hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, parents, retirees and other Californians of valuable work opportunities, depriving local restaurants of desperately needed revenue, and making it more difficult for consumers to receive prepared food, groceries, and other essentials safely and reliably. We will fight to continue providing Dashers the flexible earning opportunities they say they want in these challenging times.”