Senator Warren Seeks Answers From Tech CEOs on Worker Misclassification & Abortion Benefits

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In full transparency, the following is a media release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office. She was elected by voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to serve the state in Washington DC in the US Senate. She is a Democrat. (stock photo)

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WASHINGTON DC – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Cori Bush (D-Mo.), and 23 members of Congress sent letters to the CEOs of Amazon, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub regarding reports that a new benefit – offered to their employees in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade – applies only to the companies’ employees and not to their misclassified independent contractor workforce.

“We welcome private sector companies stepping up with meaningful responses in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs,” wrote the lawmakers. “But misclassification of workers as independent contractors threatens to limit the impact of these actions and cheapen your company’s response.”

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, many companies like Amazon, Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Grubhub began offering limited coverage of travel expenses related to receiving abortion care for employees in states that severely restrict or ban access to abortion care. There have been reports, however, that these benefits only apply to traditional employees enrolled in these companies’ employer-sponsored health plans, and not to their misclassified independent contractor workforce.

“Companies like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, DoorDash, and Amazon continue to misclassify workers as ‘independent contractors’ rather than employees, excluding them from accessing the rights and benefits –  like access to abortion care – that they deserve,” said Senator Elizabeth Warren. “I’m glad to be partnering with Representative Bush in this fight to make sure that big corporations can’t get away with exploiting this loophole any longer.”

“Every worker deserves access to essential health care, including abortion care. Despite companies’ willingness to provide these much-needed benefits following the disastrous Supreme Court decision, it continues to exclude thousands of workers, including independent contractors and gig workers, and disproportionately affect Black, Brown and Indigenous workers,” said Congresswoman Cori Bush. “I am proud to partner with Senator Warren to ensure that corporations like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, DoorDash and Amazon keep their commitments to all their employees and not just a select few.”

The exclusion of independent contractors from these benefits is particularly egregious given that all five companies misclassify hundreds of thousands of their key workers, including rideshare and delivery drivers, as independent contractors instead of employees. More and more women are joining the gig workforce, and women of color, particularly Black and Indigenous women, already face far greater obstacles in accessing abortions and related care.

The lawmakers have asked the companies to provide information on the nature and implementation of these new policies by October 22, 2022.

This letter is also signed by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Representatives Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (D-Ill.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Madeleine Dean (D-Penn.), Emanuel Cleaver, II (D- Mo.), Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Dwight Evans (D-Penn.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D-Ga.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), and Marie Newman (D-Ill.).

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