In a unanimous decision yesterday, the California Supreme Court adopted a new legal standard that will make it much more difficult for businesses to classify workers as independent contractors, drastically changing the legal landscape across the state. California’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of independent contractors seeking employee status from a last-mile delivery service in a case that could have wide ramifications for Uber, Lyft, Amazon, Instacart, and other companies buoyed by the sweat of the gig economy. The decision will directly affect the trucking and transportation industry because the workers involved in the case were delivery drivers, but also has the potential to affect nearly every other industry—including the emerging gig economy. Specifically, the court adopted a new standard for determining whether a company “employs” or is the “employer” for purposes of the California Wage Orders.
Under the new “ABC” test, a worker is considered an employee under the Wage Orders unless the hiring entity establishes all three of these prongs:
- the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of such work and in fact;
- the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and
- the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.
Read the ruling in full here.