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USA: App-based delivery companies accused of failing to protect gig economy workers and compensate families after several drivers killed in violent attacks

“When Gig Workers Die On The Job, They Die Alone”, 19 April 2021

… Across the U.S., a disturbing trend has emerged where gig workers for companies like UberEats, DoorDash, and Instacart have been shot, violently assaulted, and killed while delivering food, driving rideshare passengers, or fulfilling grocery delivery orders.

In Washington, D.C., two teenage girls stand accused of murder after allegedly carjacking 66-year-old UberEats driver Mohammad Anwar…

In Dallas, one DoorDash deliverer was shot five times while completing an order. The same has happened in Detroit, Virginia, and New Jersey over the last 18 months…

Because of their independent contractor status, gig workers like Murray, Anwar, and Vitinio aren’t given protections afforded to full-time employees like workers’ compensation, health insurance, or sick leave. When they die, while in the line of duty, their families are more often than not left with nothing.

Dr. Patricia Campos-Medina, a gig labor expert and co-director of the Workers Institute at Cornell University, said [these] death [were] example[s] of the way that gig companies have been able to sidestep taking responsibility for worker injuries.

“This is what the on demand platform allows,” Dr. Campos-Medina says. “It frees them from liability from taking responsibility for accidents on the jobs where people sign onto the platform as workers. That’s the wall they’ve created for themselves.”

… [P]art of the reason app-based companies can shirk responsibility and offer their workers such little pay is that they willfully misclassify their workforce as independent contractors, denying them benefits awarded to full-status employees.