Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Rejects Ballot Initiatives on Gig Economy Drivers’ Status as Independent Contractors

Staffiing Industry Analysts (SIA) reports that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said that two ballot measures that addressed the classification of drivers as independent contractors did not comply with the requirement in the Massachusetts constitution that a ballot measure only addresses one subject. 

Massachusetts voters won’t get to weigh in on whether drivers for Uber, DoorDash and other B2C work services platforms should be classified as independent contractors. Two petitions that would have gone before the voters should not have been certified by the Massachusetts attorney general, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled today.

The court noted Massachusetts law prohibits measures from going before voters if they contain unrelated subjects. The court said the two IC ballot measures — which are largely similar — would classify drivers as independent contractors but would also extend the independent contractor classification in cases of possible lawsuits against drivers. These might include lawsuits involving driver assaults or traffic collisions. The extension of the classification could limit platform companies’ legal liabilities in certain cases — and that represents a different subject than only making drivers independent contractors in terms of their work relationship.

“The petitions thus violate the related subjects requirement because they present voters with two substantively distinct policy decisions: one confined for the most part to the contract-based and voluntary relationship between app-based drivers and network companies; the other — couched in confusingly vague and open-ended provisions — apparently seeking to limit the network companies’ liability to third parties injured by app-based drivers’ tortious conduct,” the court stated.

Proponents today stated the court ruling denies voters the right to make their own decisions.

Read the full story at Massachusetts’ top court rejects ballot initiatives on gig economy drivers’ IC status

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