by Nicholas Engel and Sarah Kalman; edited by Courtney Chlebina
Temple Law’s chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (Worker’s Rights Committee) recently hosted a panel discussing employment law in an age where short term “gigs” are a mainstream source of income. The panel included Professor Brishen Rogers and Professor Ken Jacobsen from Temple Law, as well as Professor Leora Eisenstadt from Temple’s Fox School of Business.
A “gig economy” job is one where someone is hired for a specific service, such as an Uber driver, and thus tend to be short term, informal employment arrangements. In contrast with formal employer-employee relationships, gigs give the contractors more freedom and flexibility but lack typical employee benefits, such as workers’ compensation coverage, unemployment insurance, and family and medical leave protections. The professors discussed the complex and overlapping legal tests used by courts to determine a key question: “who is an employee?” The stakes of this legal question are high because the added costs of having true employees could drive some gig businesses, like Uber, out of business altogether. The panel also addressed how employment discrimination functions in gigs and the legal protections afforded to gig drivers.
The event concluded with a short discussion among the panelists about the changes that Uber could make to its business model to mitigate some of these concerns raised, and they answered questions from the students. Watch the presentation here.