Court Finds Food Delivery Service Driver An Independent Contractor Not An Employee

On February 8, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California held, in the case of Lawson v. Grubhub, Inc., that a former Grubhub delivery driver was not an employee, as the driver claimed, but rather was properly classified as an independent contractor.  The test for whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor is found in S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations (1989) 48 Cal.3d 341. The main thrust of the Borello test is whether and to what extent the “employer” controls the manner and means of the worker’s work.  The Court in Lawson v. Grubhub decided that Grubhub did NOT sufficiently control Larson’s work for a classification as independent contractor to be improper because: (i) Grubhub did not direct or control the details of how Larson did his job, (ii) Grubhub did not control Lawson’s dress or hygiene while working, (iii) Grubhub did not train Lawson, (iv) Grubhub did not control whether, when and for how long Lawson worked, (v) Grubhub did not control how and when Lawson delivered the restaurant orders he chose to accept, and (vi) Grubhub did not evaluate Lawson’s work performance. 

 –Adam K. Treiger