Many so-called “gig economy companies” operate in West Virginia and all across the country. Some businesses, such as Uber or Lyft, offer ride-sharing services to customers. Companies like Grubhub or DoorDash deliver food from various restaurants to people’s homes or offices. While most of the gig employees work as independent contractors, there is a growing concern that the companies who hire them are guilty of misclassification.

By classifying employees as independent contractors, companies can avoid paying health care benefits and unemployment for them. The workers are also unable to unionize or participate in collective bargaining. Businesses also are not required to follow the guidelines for mandatory breaks or harassment for on-demand employees.

Workers at these companies complain of extremely long hours with low pay. In fact, some of the gig economy companies have admitted that their business models are built on the fact they can hire independent contractors for the jobs. Classifying the workers as regular employees would increase their labor costs exponentially and possibly prevent them from doing business.

Now, many gig economy companies are filing initial public offerings. Labor experts suspect that these filings are an attempt to avoid stricter legislation that may be coming down the pike. As the IPOs are being filed, workers at several of these companies have filed numerous lawsuits, claiming that they have essentially been working full-time jobs while classified as contractors.

When job misclassification is suspected, employees need to take action. A West Virginia attorney familiar with employment law can help workers proceed with the legal process. A knowledgeable lawyer will strive to ensure that employees are classified correctly and help them receive the appropriate wages and benefits — both past and future — to which they are entitled.