Lyft Driver James Hosey, an aspiring rapper and music producer, explains how being categorized as an independent worker allows him the flexibility to pursue his music career and spend time with his 3-year–old son. Photo by Frank Lopez.

published on July 26, 2019 - 1:33 PM
Written by Frank Lopez

Fresno area rideshare and on-demand delivery drivers held a press conference Wednesday morning as a part of the “I’m Independent Coalition” to share their concerns over the Dynamex court ruling and how it limits their flexibility as independent workers.

During the press conference at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce office, drivers shared why they would prefer to remain independent workers rather than employees.

The Dynamex ruling implements a test that a worker must completely satisfy in order to be considered an independent worker, dubbed the “ABC” test.

Drivers are also urging lawmakers in Sacramento to support legislation they hope would protect flexibility, pay standards, benefits and representation in their industry.

James Hosey, whose only current job is as a Lyft driver, hopes to become a rapper and music producer some day. He enjoys the freedom of making his own schedule so he can travel to music events.

“Being able to have control over my schedule does help me follow my passion,” Hosey said. “If legislators take that away, they’ll take away my opportunity of doing what I was put on earth to do.”

Hosey said the freedom to make his own schedule allows him to be able to work on his dream career, as well as spend time with his 3-year-old son.

The California Supreme Court’s decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County ruled that a contractor would be classified as an employee unless the employer establishes each of the following three factors:

A: The work must be free from the control and direction of the employer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for performance of the work and in fact; and

B: The worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the employer’s business; and

C: The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed.

Janet Lewis said she starting driving for Lyft last year after hitting some financial troubles, and since substitute teachers don’t get paid on the days they don’t work, Lyft driving helps supplement her income.

“I worried that I would lose the flexibility of being independent and the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher. Then in those times when there is no work available, that I could just pick something up and earn some income,” she said.

Janet’s husband Rowland Lewis is a steelworker who also drives for Lyft to provide extra money without having it conflict with his main work.

Legislation currently under consideration in Sacramento would codify the Dynamex decision into law, though certain industries are eyeing possible exemptions. One bill, AB 5, carves out exemptions for certain workers to remain independent contractors, including doctors, dentists, lawyers, architects, accountants, engineers, insurance agents, investment advisers, direct sellers, real estate agents, hairstylists and barbers who rent booths at salons, as well as marketers and human-resources professionals with advanced degrees.

The California Supreme Court is also expected to rule on whether the Dynamex decision can be applied retroactively. The decision could dictate whether businesses face liability in the form of employee misclassification lawsuits.

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