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Is CA Labor Commissioner’s Office behind the times?

The notion that a fair day’s work is worth a fair day’s pay is something that the labor movement has promoted for a long time. And in California, the concept has been codified into law in different ways. One example is that overtime gets paid for any work over eight hours in a day. The general rule in much of the country only grants OT for work over 40 hours in a week.

In just the past few years, another issue of fair wages has emerged on the scene — fed by development of the on-demand economy supported by digital connectedness. It’s by virtue of smartphones and computer applications that we have such things as Uber and Lyft. And the question that is now vigorously being debated is whether the drivers for those companies should be considered employees or independent contractors.

As readers surely know that argument is nowhere close to being resolved, but now we see that it’s being used by the Harbor Trucking Assn. to bolster a claim that California’s Labor Commissioner is out of touch with how on-demand technology is being applied in its industry.

The way this group sees it, the relationship between truckers and trucking companies is becoming a lot more like that which exists between the ride-sharing companies and their drivers. And because of that, it is blasting a commission decision requiring a Carson port trucking firm to pay more than $7 million to 38 drivers for back wages and illegal paycheck deductions.

But as an article in the Los Angeles Times observes, it seems like a bad analogy. Not only is are the Uber and Lyft business models still a matter of contention, but their operations are not the same as those used by trucking companies. Specifically, the paper notes that while ride-sharing providers often own their cars and drive for both companies, truckers often lease their rigs and are required to drive only for one company.

Employment dispute issues do not deserve to be dismissed as something being out of step with reality. The reality is that hard working people suffer when businesses look to skirt employment laws and for the protection of worker rights, employees should consult with an experienced attorney.

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