“Disruption” is a term frequently employed to describe companies that use technology and innovative business models to transform existing markets. The innovative business models that many of these market disruptors use raise questions about whether employees are classified as “independent contractors” or “employees.” Lawsuits filed by drivers for ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft will determine whether drivers for these companies will be classified as independent contractors or employees.
Given that these lawsuits are likely to be resolved by juries, Bonora Rountree conducted a survey of 350 jury-eligible residents of California in November 2015 to measure public opinion about whether drivers for ride-sharing companies should be classified as employees or independent contractors.
Our findings are summarized as follows:
- Of jury-eligible respondents in California, 81% have heard of the ride-sharing companies Uber or Lyft.
- Approximately 60% of those respondents who had heard of Uber or Lyft were either “very” (23%) or “somewhat” (37%) familiar with news stories regarding whether drivers should be classified as employees or independent contractors.
- Approximately 41% of survey participants believed that drivers for ride-sharing companies should be considered independent contractors, and 29% believed that drivers should be considered employees.
- Survey participants were almost evenly divided on whether ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are taking advantage of drivers. Almost 48% of survey participants agreed that the ride-sharing companies are taking advantage of drivers, and 51% disagreed.
- When asked which side they would favor in a class action lawsuit between drivers and ride-sharing companies, approximately one-third of respondents would favor the drivers, and 17% would favor the companies.