On-Demand Cleaning Service Workers Are Employees, U.S. Labor Board Says

By | September 6, 2017

The National Labor Relations Board has issued a complaint against the digital on-demand platform Handy Technologies Inc., alleging that workers who provide its home cleaning services are employees despite the company’s claims to the contrary.

The case is one of the first in which the agency is directly addressing under what circumstances a sharing-economy company’s control over its workers makes it their legal employer –- an issue on which its approach could soon change under Republican leadership.

The complaint, issued last Monday by the agency’s Boston-based regional director and provided to Bloomberg by the workers’ attorney, alleges that Handy “has misclassified its cleaners as ‘independent contractors,’ while they are in fact statutory employees” who are entitled to the protections of federal labor law.

The case concerns workers who are trying to bring wage and hour class-action claims against Handy and who argue the company is violating their rights as employees by trying to force them into arbitration instead. Unless there is a settlement, it now heads to an administrative law judge, and from there could be appealed to the labor board’s presidentially appointed members, and then into federal court.

Handy said it was confident of winning. “The professionals using our platform are independent contractors — a fact which has been consistently upheld in similar cases ruled on at the federal court level,” Brian Miller, Handy’s general counsel, said in an e-mailed statement. “We hope this complaint draws attention to the need for better legislation, rather than litigation that hurts professionals and their customers across Handy and other on-demand services.”

The NLRB declined to comment.

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