SAN FRANCISCO – – San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin announced that he and his predecessor, current Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, have jointly filed a lawsuit against a company charged with violating state labor laws.
New York-based Handy provides household services such as cleaning and handyman chores to customers across the country through its website and mobile app.
However, according to the lawsuit filed in the San Francisco Superior Court on Wednesday, Handy classifies its service providers as independent contractors if the workers are considered to be workers under state law.
A California law that went into effect in 2020 as a result of Bill 5 set strict criteria by which companies could classify their employees as either employees or independent contractors. Although state voters voted in November to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to continue using independent contractors, also known as gig workers, all other companies operating in California are subject to the law.
“By misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of workers, those workers are left without critical protections in the workplace such as access to minimum wages, access to paid vacation, disability insurance and unemployment insurance,” said Boudin.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Stillman said, “Handy has completely evaded California labor law for this vulnerable group of domestic workers, such as the cleaners and the workers who provide practical services to our homes.”
Stillman says Handy uses a system of fines to punish workers who either arrive late or leave their jobs early and, as independent contractors, workers have little time to pay the fines.
“Misclassified workers do not have equal access to anti-harassment and discrimination laws, and they have no protection from harassment and assault in the workplace. And that is a big problem when we talk about the domestic workforce because these are workers who are alone go home and are very susceptible to sexual harassment, “Stillman said. “And workers who are not workers do not have solid legal rights to organize and bargain collectively.”
“Businesses that cut corners get an unfair advantage and godsend on the back of vulnerable women of skin color, and really on the back of all business that obey the rules and taxpayers who suffer and pay the bills when things go wrong go wrong, “said Boudin.
Although the lawsuit was filed in San Francisco, Boudin said his office partnered with Gascon’s office on the lawsuit to further protect workers in southern California.
The lawsuit seeks refunds for cell phone workers across the state, as well as civil penalties and changes to the way cell phone classifies its workers in California.
Handy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.