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Startup Defending California Labor Lawsuit Alleging Misclassification

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Los Angeles, CAWe all know about Uber, and Lyft and how ride sharing works with the use of a mobile application, or ‘app.’ Well, now the app world has come to the house cleaning industry. We know this because of a California labor lawsuit alleging that house cleaners working for a startup should be afforded the normal rights and protections of an employee, rather than an independent contractor.

According to court documents the defendant is Tidy Services, Inc. (Tidy). The latter connects users with house cleaners through the use of a mobile app, in similar fashion to Uber and Lyft. Tidy is alleged to classify cleaning staff as independent contractors and thus, exempt from the basket of rights and protections afforded employees under California labor law.

Not so fast, say the plaintiffs…

The amount of control Tidy is alleged to bring to the process, including the provision of step-by-step instructions to cleaning staff, is more suggestive of an employer-employee relationship rather than an independent contractor providing a service to a customer.

The lead plaintiffs in the proposed California and labor law class action are Susan Archuletta and Priscilla Ortega, both of whom challenge the level of control exerted by Tidy over the process while attempting to classify cleaning staff as independent contractors. To that end, Archuletta and Ortega assert that Tidy maintains an overly broad interpretation of a typical relationship between an independent contractor and the entity to which the contractor provides services.

The lead plaintiffs seek the opportunity to represent other cleaners working for Tidy who are similarly situated in the state of California.

It has been reported that a number of California labor lawsuits have been filed against startups attempting to save on labor costs by classifying - allegedly in error - their employees as independent contractors in an effort to avoid, or at the very least save on labor costs.

Those costs include the provision of overtime pay when an employee works longer than an 8-hour day or a 40-hour week. Under California labor employment law, an employee must also be provided with a meal period lasting not less than 30 minutes and enjoyed without interruption, to be taken prior to commencing the fifth hour of work. Rest periods are also to be provided. Should rest periods or meal breaks be unavailable to the employee due to the pitch and yaw of the work day and a schedule that lacks the needed flexibility to take breaks according to labor law, then California labor employment law holds that missed breaks constitute extra time worked and thus, should qualify for overtime pay according to provisions entrenched in California state labor laws.

The California labor lawsuit suggests that for Tidy to classify its cleaners as independent contractors, Tidy should not have the right, or authority to dictate the process as precisely as Tidy is alleged to do.

The California employee labor law class action is Susan Archuletta et al v. Tidy Services Inc., Case No. 30-2006-00861892-cu-oe-cxc, filed July 6th of this year in the Superior Court of the State of California.


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