July 08, 2020 Feature

Workers’ Compensation, Nonstandard Work, and Workers Laboring in the Gig

By David B. Torrey
VectorMoon/iStock/Getty Images Plus

VectorMoon/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Workers’ compensation lawyers can look to cases decided under the FLSA for guidance in assessing claims filed by workers injured while laboring in the gig.

Individuals laboring in “nonstandard work”—temporary/staffing company workers, “gig”1 workforce actors like Uber and Grubhub drivers, and other freelancers—are a population on the rise.2 This growth in the number of nonstandard workers, and the correlative phenomenon of businesses aggressively classifying their workers as independent contractors,3 has been ascribed to at least three factors: (1) enhanced competition due to globalization, (2) pressure from investors (capital markets) for corporations to concentrate on “core competencies” and maximize profits, and (3) the revolution in information and communications technology.4 Many commentators, in a nod to the enhanced competition factor, also ascribe the growing use of independent contractors to firms’ desire to avoid burdensome regulations that attach when workers are classified as employees.5

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