What Counts as Workplace Harassment in the Gig Economy?

Gig work has become an increasingly important topic in California over the past several years. Since AB 5 and Prop 22, two critical laws granting gig workers additional rights, were signed into law, gig workers have been at odds with their employers regarding the benefits and responsibilities those companies owe them.

While AB 5 and other related bills have produced answers regarding pay and benefits, there are other problems concerning many gig workers. For example, many workers suffer from harassment or racism daily while on the job and are looking for ways to protect themselves.

Whether that’s possible can be a complicated legal question. Here’s what you need to know about California’s laws protecting independent contractors and how you can respond to the harassment you face on the job.

Protection for Gig Work vs. Standard Employment

In most cases, app workers are defined as independent contractors, not standard employees. They are not technically covered by California’s workplace harassment laws. Instead, any abuse they face is covered by civil harassment laws.

The problem is that this doesn’t give the workers the same access to protections from their employer. It also makes it much harder for workers to fight for damages if their employer fails to protect them.

However, misclassification is rampant among gig workers and other independent contracts. If a worker is performing work that rightfully should make them a standard employee, when they are harassed, they can take legal action to fight for correct classification and damages for the abuse they faced.

Fighting Against Harassment as a Gig Worker

You still have options if you’re an app worker suffering from abuse. First, consider whether you’re being misclassified. You may be performing the work of an employee if:

  • Your employer controls and directs your work
  • Your job is a core part of the company’s typical business
  • You don’t perform the same function elsewhere

If you meet those three criteria, you may have grounds to fight for classification as an employee. If so, you can also pursue workplace harassment claims. Suppose you’re suffering from work-related verbal, sexual, or physical abuse. In that case, you may be able to take legal action against your employer for harassing you or failing to protect you from abuse and creating a hostile work environment.

Fight Back Against Harassment

Harassment may be common for gig workers, but that doesn’t mean you should accept it. You may be able to force your employer to protect you from abuse by fighting for classification as an employee. When you take a stand, you can also help protect everyone in situations similar to yours.

If you believe you meet the qualifications to be an employee, not an independent contractor, talk to the expert employment law attorneys at AMF LLP. We will help you understand your options and, should you choose to take legal action, argue on your behalf in court. Schedule your consultation to learn more about how we can help you take a stand and fight for the employment rights you’re due under California law.