Enlarge / Shannon Liss-Riordan, who has brought lawsuits against GrubHub and other firms, seen here in 2012. (credit: Boston Globe / Getty Images News)
SAN FRANCISCO—The first trial over the status of workers in the “gig economy”—or one worker, anyhow—has begun here. The sole question to be decided is this: during the few months Raef Lawson drove for food-delivery company GrubHub, beginning in late 2015, was he an employee or an independent contractor?
It’s an intensive, deep dive into one tiny slice of the new breed of apps that make up the gig economy.

And if Lawson is successful, the industry could be more vulnerable to other, similar litigation.
The financial stakes in the case aren’t high. Lawson’s case failed to win class-action status, so he can’t ask for damages for anyone but himself. His lawyers’ pre-trial brief (PDF) acknowledges there’s less than $600 in damages on the line, at the moment.
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