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Former California Grubhub driver wins $65 in 8-year-fight to be called employee

By Robert Burnson | Bloomberg

A former Grubhub Inc. driver in Los Angeles won a federal court ruling that won’t make him rich but may have a big impact the gig economy.

“Raef Lawson is the first gig worker in America to be declared an employee by a court for wage law purposes,” said the driver’s lawyer, Shannon Liss-Riordan.

US Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled Thursday that the aspiring actor was in fact a Grubhub employee, not an independent contractor, when he briefly drove of the food-delivery service in 2015 and 2016. She ordered Grubhub to pay him $65.11 for minimum wage violations but said he was due nothing on overtime because he hadn’t worked more than 40 hours in any one week.

The eight-year-old case has been closely watched in the gig economy industry. Experts have said the outcome may determine whether drivers qualify under California’s law to be reimbursed for their personal vehicle expenses and make claims retroactively.

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