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Grubhub Case With Implications for Gig Economy Is Bumping to a Close

By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 31, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It's not a good sign when the judge interrupts your argument to call your client a liar.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, suing Gubhub over how it pays drivers, was closing in the closely-watched case. If she wins, it could have deep impact on the gig economy.

The lawyer will have to get past the judge, however, who jumped in to say her client was untruthful and the "decision would reflect that." It's not over 'till it's over, but this seems like a pretty significant foreshadow.

Contractors v. Employees

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley cut into the lawyer's argument about 20 minutes in. The judge said the plaintiff produced a "fabricated resume" and lied on an application.

It was nearing the end of a bench trial that tests whether Grubhub drivers are independent contracts or employees. It is the same issue facing Uber, Lyft, and other gig economy companies.

The Grubhub case is the first to put the issue on trial, and the plaintiff's attorney is plowing the field for other drivers. They want to be paid as employees -- with benefits like reimbursement and unemployment insurance -- and not to be short-changed as contractors who have to pay their own expenses.

Liss-Riordan was up for the challenging, having already sued Uber on similar claims. The problem in the Grubhub case, however, seems to be the plaintiff.

Big Misrepresentation

After the judge interrupted her, the attorney tried to move on. But Corely wouldn't let it go.

"I know he's willing not to tell the truth," the judge said.

"We've seen plenty of cases where people lie on resumes to get a job," the attorney responded.

"It may be a fact of life, and it happens, but it shouldn't happen," the judge added. "I'm telling you, that's a really big misrepresentation."

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