Florida Decision States That Uber Drivers Are Independent Contractors

On December 3, 2015, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) determined that Uber drivers in Florida will be considered independent contractors rather than employees. This reverses an earlier state decision and shows the State’s position in a countrywide debate regarding the classification of Uber drivers.

Executive Director of the DEO, Jesse Panuccio, stated in his decision that “Technology is allowing hundreds of thousands of people to go into business for themselves. Those in business for themselves may not have the same guarantees and benefits of those in the employ of others, but there are many other benefits of being your own boss. …Technological advances are opening up that dream to many more people, and we should not malign (or perhaps misclassify) that trend as worker misclassification.” This decision means that the San Francisco-based company can avoid paying drivers’ unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation and other employee-related costs.

This decision follows Uber’s appeal of a prior state revenue department decision in May, which dealt with the classification of former Uber drivers Darrin McGillis and Melissa Ewers as company employees, entitling them to unemployment benefits after Uber dismissed them from the service. Darrin McGillis states that he is planning to appeal the decision to the District Court of Appeals.

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