Uber may have built its hailing empire, in part, by notoriously skirting past local laws and regulations, but at least one state’s finally forcing the company to pay up.
On Tuesday, Uber agreed to pay New Jersey $100 million in back taxes over claims the company misclassified thousands of drivers as independent contractors between 2014-2018. That mischaracterization, according to an audit conducted by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, may have prevented thousands of workers from being able to receive critical resources like unemployment, disability and family leave insurance. Though narrowly focused on New Jersey workers, the payout potentially marks an inflection point for drivers across the country who’ve, for years, refuted Uber’s labeling of them as so-called “gig workers.”
“We will not tolerate companies that misclassify their workers, thereby denying employees vital benefits and dodging their obligation to contribute to programs that benefit the workforce,” New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin said in a statement. “By misclassifying workers, companies both harm their employees and sidestep their obligations under the law. New Jersey will continue to enforce our employee misclassification laws aggressively to prevent such conduct. As the economy changes, we will vigorously defend workers’ rights.”