Government and Politics
September 24, 2022
“We urge you to support all your workers by classifying them as employees and providing them with the associated benefits and rights.”
Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and 23 members of Congress sent letters to the CEOs of Amazon, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub regarding reports that a new benefit – offered to their employees in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – applies only to the companies’ employees and not to their misclassified independent contractor workforce.
“We welcome private sector companies stepping up with meaningful responses in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs,” wrote the lawmakers. “But misclassification of workers as independent contractors threatens to limit the impact of these actions and cheapen your company’s response.”
Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many companies like Amazon, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub began offering limited coverage of travel expenses related to receiving abortion care for employees in states that severely restrict or ban access to abortion care. There have been reports, however, that these benefits only apply to traditional employees enrolled in these companies’ employer-sponsored health plans, and not to their misclassified independent contractor workforce.
“Companies like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Amazon continue to misclassify workers as ‘independent contractors’ rather than employees, excluding them from accessing the rights and benefits – like access to abortion care – that they deserve,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m glad to be partnering with Representative Bush in this fight to make sure that big corporations can't get away with exploiting this loophole any longer."
“Every worker deserves access to essential health care, including abortion care. Despite companies’ willingness to provide these much-needed benefits following the disastrous Supreme Court decision, it continues to exclude thousands of workers, including independent contractors and gig workers, and disproportionately affect Black, Brown and Indigenous workers,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “I am proud to partner with Senator Warren to ensure that corporations like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, DoorDash and Amazon keep their commitments to all their employees and not just a select few.”
The exclusion of independent contractors from these benefits is particularly egregious given that all five companies misclassify hundreds of thousands of their key workers, including rideshare and delivery drivers, as independent contractors instead of employees. More and more women are joining the gig workforce, and women of color, particularly Black and Indigenous women, already face far greater obstacles in accessing abortions and related care.
The lawmakers have asked the companies to provide information on the nature and implementation of these new policies by October 22, 2022.
Senator Warren has been a staunch advocate for working-class people and has long fought against worker misclassification and for the expansion of access to abortion care:
On August 4, 2022, Senators Warren, Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), outlining concrete actions HHS can take to help meet President Biden’s goal of protecting and expanding access to medication abortion.
On July 29, 2022, Senators Warren and Hirono led 23 of their colleagues in a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), calling on the VA to take immediate administrative action to offer abortions and all abortion-related services to veterans and eligible dependents.
On July 14, 2022, Senators Warren, Cory Booker (D-N.J), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), and over a dozen Senate Democrats wrote to President Biden and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, urging them to immediately declare national and public health emergencies over Americans’ access to reproductive care.
On June 7, 2022, Senators Warren and Murray led 23 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to President Biden urging him to immediately issue an executive order directing the federal government to develop a national plan to defend Americans’ fundamental reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.
In October 2020, Senator Warren joined Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), along with a group of Senate colleagues in a letter urging U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Eugene Scalia to rescind a proposed rule regarding classification of workers as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
In August 2020, Senator Warren wrote an op-ed calling for companies like Uber and Lyft to stop denying workers their rights by misclassifying them as independent contractors.
In April 2020, Senator Warren called for an end to worker misclassification as part of her Essential Workers Bill of Rights.