DA sues DoorDash over worker misclassification

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced Tuesday his office has filed legal action against app-based food delivery service DoorDash, accusing the company of illegally misclassifying its employees.

According to Boudin, because San Francisco-based DoorDash’s delivery workers continue to work as independent contractors, or gig workers, they’re being denied labor law protections legally afforded to employees like minimum wage, overtime pay, unemployment insurance and protection from discrimination, among other things.

“When billion-dollar corporations are able to skirt labor laws; able to avoid paying their fair share into unemployment insurance funds, all of us suffer,” Boudin said.

He added that as a result of large companies avoiding labor laws, “it puts law-abiding companies that actually treat their employees as employees and follow the law in a disadvantaged position, where they have to compete with employers like DoorDash who gain unfair competitive advantages by illegally misclassifying workers; cheating their employees and cheating the state.”

“Now more than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic, we must protect our workers. Especially those essential workers that are delivering us food each day,” he said.

The complaint against DoorDash seeks civil penalties and restitution for workers in the form of an injunction requiring DoorDash to properly classify its delivery workers as employees.

A California Supreme Court 2018 decision resulted in the crafting of Assembly Bill 5, which was signed into law in 2019 by Governor Gavin Newsom and mandates that companies must determine for themselves whether workers are employees or independent contractors based on an assessment test.

State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who authored AB 5, commended Boudin’s efforts.

“We don’t often think about wage theft, and that’s what this is,” she said. “It’s time these billion-dollar corporations pay their fair share to workers.”

Despite AB 5 going into effect earlier this year, companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash continue to advocate for keeping gig workers, citing their freedom to work flexible hours without commitment.

“Throughout the pandemic, DoorDash has supported Dashers on and off the road with free safety equipment, telemedicine, earnings replacement, and more,” DoorDash spokesman Max Rettig said in a statement.

”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,” Rettig said. “We will fight to continue providing Dashers the flexible earning opportunities they say they want in these challenging times.”

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