Image: Uber circa 1802
By Jessy Nations
With the advent of the smartphone, people have gained unfettered access to technology and services previous generations never could have imagined. With a few taps on your touchscreen, you can have someone pick you up and drive you anywhere in the city. Going on a trip? You can find lodging nearly anywhere at an ostensibly reasonable price. Hungry? Through the miracle of technology, you can have groceries or meals from your favorite restaurant delivered right to your doorstep. It’s all thanks to the wonders of the exciting new “sharing economy.”
Of course, none of this is actually new. Uber is a taxi service that forces its drivers to provide their own cars. Airbnb allows you to rent a hotel room in some stranger’s house. There is an entire field of law that is older than the United States that regulates common carriers, such as taxis, and another field regulating hotels called hospitality law. But Uber isn’t considered a common carrier; it’s “ride sharing.” Airbnb isn’t a hotel service; it’s a “home sharing” platform.
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BMW and MINI Enter the Sharing Economy as Seattle Proves Itself a Leader in Legislation
By Grady Hepworth
This month, Seattle drivers were treated to a new transportation option that will allow hundreds of citizens to ditch their old clunkers for fresh, new, German-engineered wheels. On April 8th BMW officially announced that it would be starting its own car sharing service, ReachNow, with the pilot program and headquarters to launch in Seattle. BMW, and its subsidiary MINI, have hopes to expand ReachNow to cities across North America in order to compete with established sharing services like Car2Go or Zip Car, and even chauffer services like Uber and Lyft.
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By Cheryl Lee
What do Uber, Amazon and FedEx have in common? They are all multibillion dollar companies using independent contractors for transport and have faced or are facing lawsuits alleging they wrongfully classified employees as independent contractors.
Generally, independent contractors are cheaper for companies to hire. Employers do not have to offer benefits like health insurance and 401(k)s, pay overtime or give paid days off, cover the employer share of their payroll taxes, or withhold income taxes. Independent contractors essentially run their own business with autonomy to decide when, where and how to do the work assigned. They have the freedom to take on projects with other companies. Continue reading →