Can Uber Comply? Obtaining Information for FLSA Enforcement in the Sharing Economy

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Sharing-economy companies vigorously fight any suggestion that their workers are employees rather than independent contractors. The arguments on which they rely vary, including the heightened flexibility for workers that their platforms provide, as well as contending that they represent a form of supplemental income instead of full-time work. Academics and worker advocates alike believe that these companies currently misclassify employees as independent contractors in order to exploit them. Others argue these companies cannot even afford to treat their workers as employees and pay them at least minimum wage. The debate around the employment status of sharing-economy workers largely concentrates on the financial aspects of the issue. Yet, another critical question looms in the background: is it even logistically feasible to give platform workers the rights that come with employee status?

This Comment will focus primarily on one aspect of this question: Are workers, platforms, and the government in a position to exchange the information needed to enforce employment rights? In particular, are Uber and its drivers capable of providing the information to the government and each other that would allow for the enforcement of wage-and-hour laws in court?

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