William Fitzgerald,

Action Center on Race & Economy: Misclassification of App-Based Workers Is A Racial Justice Problem

Chicago, Illinois: Today, the Action Center on Race and Economy (ACRE) alongside with a number of leading organizations advocating for racial justice submitted comments in response to the Department of Labor (DOL)’s proposed rule on employee or independent contractor classification under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The submission supports the DOL’s implementation of the proposed rule because we believe that misclassification has a long history of racial exclusion and that app corporations continue this legacy.

“Misclassification has a long history of racial exclusion. App corporations are continuing this legacy by misclassifying workers of color and denying them the benefits and protections they deserve. We need the Department of Labor to stand up for app workers’ rights and tell these companies that the gig is up by implementing and strengthening this rule as soon as possible.” said Veronica Avila, Deputy Director of Worker Campaigns at ACRE

Workers of color are more likely to be misclassified as independent contractors, and they are more likely to experience the negative consequences of misclassification, including lower wages, fewer benefits, and less job security. Through misclassification, app-based corporations continue a long-standing practice, extending back to the New Deal, of keeping workers of color on the fringes of labor law and excluding them from stable employment.

“Economic and racial violence go hand in hand and are rampant in the app-based industry, where there is a disproportionate number of Black workers who are underpaid, unprotected, and exploited by corporations that continue to place profit over people. NBWC understands the challenges of low wages and the denial of the most basic worker benefits and protections such as minimum wage, overtime pay, and protection against discrimination and harassment. That is why we are demanding that DOL listen to directly impacted workers and undo policies that have enabled worker exploitation,” said Nzingha Hooker, Policy Director at National Black Worker Center.

We know from extensive research that economically insecure workers are predominantly people of color, who are more sensitive to economic downturns. Too often workers are left with no choice but to turn to app-based work. When workers do begin these jobs they are met with unpredictable wages and little control over their work hours or earnings. According to some reports, Uber and Lyft can take up to 70% of a ride fare. Moreover, misclassified app workers are not paid for all the hours that they work. App workers commonly spend 10+ hours on the road but are only paid for a fraction of that time and do not receive overtime pay. 

The proposed rule change is critical to address racial inequalities and we encourage the DOL to adopt this proposed rule to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and receive the wages and benefits they deserve. Our full submission includes a number of improvements to the proposed rule that we request the DOL to consider. 

List of organizations who signed these comments:

  • Color of Change
  • Liberation in a Generation
  • National Black Worker Center
  • Unemployed Workers United
  • MediaJustice
  • Muslims for Just Futures 
  • Raise Up South Florida
  • Public Accountability Initiative/
  • HEAL Food Alliance
  • Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
  • Human Impact Partners 
  • Restaurant Opportunities Centers United


ACRE is a campaign hub for organizations working at the intersection of racial justice and Wall Street accountability. We provide research and communications infrastructure and strategic support for organizations working on campaigns to win structural change by directly taking on the financial elite that are responsible for pillaging communities of color, devastating working class communities, and harming our environment.