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California Court Proclaims "Independent Contractor" to Grubhub Worker

Grubhub is an online delivery service provider where people order food through the company app. Ref Lawson worked as one of its food delivery drivers for about six months. He claimed that the company should have been paying him minimum wage, overtime and reimbursing his expenses under California labor laws. To be entitled to these benefits, Mr. Lawson argued he should have been classified as an employee.

The San Francisco federal magistrate looked at a variety of factors during a bench trial to determine Grubhub’s “right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the desired result.” Other relevant factors considered were: whether the work performed was part of the company’s regular business; the skill required to perform the work; the payment method; and if the work was done under managerial supervision.

Grubhub was found to have properly classified Mr. Lawson as an independent contractor. Key factors found by the magistrate to be persuasive were Grubhub’s lack of control over how he performed deliveries, the condition of his mode of transportation, his appearance, the lack of training or orientation; lack of control over his schedule such whether and when he worked. While Grubhub did have rules regarding some of these factors, they did not supervise the employees to enforce them. Also, both parties were permitted to terminate the relationship with a 14-day notice.