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Was Raef Lawson an employee when he drove for GrubHub, or a business owner?
“This trial is a milestone because similar cases have settled or been dismissed.”
Frontier axed W.
Virginia senator after he voted to boost broadband competition.
However, even with the deal, they remain independent contractors.
With IT industry unemployment hovering at around 2.8 percent (as of Q3 2016) and organizations struggling to find talent, many companies find themselves with open, unfilled jobs.That’s a problem not only for individual companies, but for the U.S. economy as a whole.[ Discover the career hacks for becoming the developer everyone wants in InfoWorld's Deep Dive. | Keep up with hot topics in programming with InfoWorld's App Dev Report newsletter. ]“Filling open jobs doesn’t just help workers.
It also helps companies and the broader economy.

Every job that’s open is money left on the table in the form of lost productivity for employers and earnings in consumers’ pockets. When more open jobs are filled with the right people, economic gains include greater business productivity and consumer spending, thanks to more people earning wages and then saving, investing, and spending those wages,” says Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at Glassdoor.To read this article in full or to leave a comment, please click here
A comprehensive database of events lets researchers explore potential causes.
IT skills that employers need in 2017Image by ThinkstockUnemployment rates in the IT industry are still hovering at historic lows, and some roles -- like network and security engineers and software developers -- are showing unemployment rates of around...
Kristin Sloanreader comments 7 Share this story On Thursday, 12 Instacart “shoppers” across 11 states filed a proposed federal class-action lawsuit against the San Francisco startup, alleging a breach of state and federal labor laws. The Instacart lawsuit is one of several currently targeting so-called “sharing economy” startups, and they all get at the same question: can workers be accurately classified as independent contractors, or should they properly be designated as employees? In Instacart’s case, customers order groceries online, but those groceries are then picked up and delivered by the company’s shoppers.
So, should those shoppers be treated as employees? Classifying such workers as employees rather than contractors would entitle them to a number of benefits under federal law.

This includes unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, the right to unionize, and, most importantly, the right to seek reimbursement for mileage and tips.

This reclassification would also incur new and significant costs for Instacart and other affected companies, including Uber and Lyft.

An on-demand cleaning service, Homejoy, shut down last year just months after it was hit with a similar labor lawsuit. The three labor law experts with whom Ars spoke agreed that this underlying sharing economy issue would not be resolved anytime soon.
It may, they said, have to be taken up by the Supreme Court at some point. “Instacart—like Uber—seems to be clearly misclassifying their workers,” Veena Dubal, a law professor at the University of California, Hastings, told Ars by e-mail.
She continued: In the Uber case, thus far, no class action has effectively forced enforcement, despite any number of cases being filed in different state and federal courts and a strong case that Uber is an employer. Perhaps taking a lesson from the Uber litigation, this Instacart case takes a new approach: alleging misclassification across jurisdictions and across wage protection laws.

A drawback of this strategy is that each state law has to be addressed on its own terms.

This may—or may not—elongate and complicate the litigation. In the new lawsuit, called Husting v. Maplebear dba Instacart, all of the plaintiffs allege that they did not receive reimbursement for work-related expenses, did not receive proper overtime pay, and “regularly” were not paid at or above minimum wage. As the civil complaint states: Plaintiffs were required to make themselves available to perform work within a predetermined range of time each day but were not compensated in a manner that guaranteed they were compensated at or above the applicable minimum wage during those hours.

During nonproductive time, or time during which Plaintiffs were required to make themselves available for work but were not given an assignment, Plaintiffs were not compensated in any manner whatsoever. On various occasions during the relevant period, Plaintiffs spent sometimes up to four hours of a designated shift sitting in their cars in a grocery store parking lot awaiting direction from Instacart. Plaintiffs were not compensated for this time in any manner. The San Francisco-based lawyers that brought this case also filed a similar lawsuit (Cobarruviaz v. Maplebear dba Instacart) in 2015.

That suit remains technically pending, but was ordered to arbitration. This new case, with new plaintiffs, takes into account an August 2016 decision by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that employees cannot be forced into binding arbitration, a private legal process that generally favors corporations and makes collective cases (class actions) all but impossible.

The main difference, of course, between the 9th Circuit’s ruling and this new case, Husting, is that Instacart will likely argue that the plaintiffs are not, in fact, employees. Rebecca Silliman, an Instacart spokeswoman, e-mailed that the company would not “comment on anything pending.” Holding feet to the fire? In June 2015 Instacart took the unusual step of allowing its delivery staff, which until then was comprised entirely of contractors, the option to become part-time workers capped at 30 hours per week. As Ars reported at the time, Instacart spokeswoman Andrea Saul specifically denied that the 30-hour cutoff was designed to avoid providing health care to shoppers and drivers under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in which full-time employment is defined as “an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week.” The ACA, among other things, requires that employers with more than 50 employees provide health care to their workers and their families. Instacart’s own office-based full-time jobs boast “comprehensive health, dental, and vision coverage” and a “smorgasbord of food while you work, including lunch and dinner catered daily,” according to company listings.
In-store jobs (the overwhelming majority of the company’s workforce) only offer “$15/hr flat rate pay” and boast “flexible hours—no need to work the same schedule every week!” Miriam Cherry, a labor law professor at Saint Louis University, said the following to Ars in an email: The issue I have the most trouble with here is that Instacart did do a major PR blitz during the first lawsuit, saying that they were going to start moving the workers into employee positions. Now it looks like they didn’t do that, despite all the positive PR that they received from that announcement. Maybe the plaintiffs in this go-round are trying to hold them to some of their promises that they made in the press.
Data security is a simmering issue in offshore outsourcing.

The offshore workers who staff help desks, call centers and manage systems are accessing data in the U.S.

The University of California IT employees, who will soon lose their jobs to overseas workers, are trying point this out. The IT employees say workers in India will have access to UCSF medical and financial information as well as to files with research and study data.

The data will reside on hardware based in the U.S. They believe the university has an obligation to disclose its plans to the broader university community and give researchers, in particular, options about who can access this data. The employees are fighting for their jobs and are trying to get the university to reverse course. The public university hired HCL, a major India-based IT services firm, to manage infrastructure operations.

As part of this shift, about 50 IT workers and another 30 contractors are facing layoffs, according the university, but the employees are using a higher number.

The contract can used by other University of California institutions if they decide to take a similar path. "Exactly how will this contract save UCSF money?" wrote an IT employee in a letter to U.S.
Sen.

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). "How will this contract benefit the state of California if we move 97 individuals from the group of 'California taxpayers' to the group of 'California unemployment recipients?' " This question has been debated in a number of states, some of which took steps to block what the University of California is now doing. In 2004, Missouri's governor at the time -- Bob Holden, a Democrat -- concluded that "international outsourcing could aggravate unemployment and workforce dislocation of Missouri and United States residents," and limited offshoring to a "unique" good or service that can't be provided domestically.

This executive order, which continues to be in force today, also pointed out that offshoring "could provide fewer privacy protections for state residents whose personal information may, in the course of service delivery, be transmitted to locations outside the United States." Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, in 2011, approved an executive order barring the use of public funds "to purchase services which will be provided outside the United States." Kasich's executive order was similar to the one his predecessor, Gov.

Ted Strickland, a Democrat, had issued in 2010. New Jersey has a similar offshoring rule by law, adopted in 2004, according to a report from the U.S.

Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General on Medicaid outsourcing by state. But most states, including California, don't appear to have restrictions on public sector offshore outsourcing. Sara Blackwell, a Florida attorney who is representing Disney workers in a lawsuit lawsuits filed over their layoff, is fighting the use of H-1B visa workers, but believes security concerns can be used to fight layoffs. U.S. firms argue that vendors are bound to contacts to protect data, but "it really doesn't protect the actual American people if it's just a contract between two companies," says Blackwell. Allowing offshore access to data is not only a risk to data privacy and security, says Blackwell, "it's also the reason why a lot of our jobs can be offshored." She is trying to interest lawmakers to draft legislation protecting personal information from overseas access. In the letter to Feinstein, the IT employee wrote in part: "The HCL workers who will be stationed in India have FULL access to not only UCSF medical and financial information, at the system and database level, but file shares that contain research and study data.

Good luck to UC if the research for a cure for a major disease is stolen.
If we are doing this in the interest of security, why are we allowing access to our systems from one of the least secure countries? Furthermore there has been little communication to the UCSF population that access to systems that contain their personal information is going to be accessed by workers in India. "Staff, students and patients probably have no recourse, but certainly the researchers who UC holds in great esteem should at least be given the courtesy to be notified and the opportunity to move their data to an onshore location where intellectual property laws exist and are upheld." A separate UCSF IT employee interviewed raised very similar concerns.

They asked that their names not be used because they are still employed. This was the second note sent to Feinstein.

The senator's staff initially responded to the IT employee concerns with a form letter, but subsequently sought more information from the employee after Computerworld asked questions about the initial response.

A Feinstein aide described their initial response as a mistake. Told of employee concerns about IT security, UCSF officials responded with this email statement: "Security and privacy have been integral to UCSF's outsourcing from the beginning.

All UCSF data will remain in the United States in this delivery model. HCL staff assigned to the UCSF account will only have access to data via a virtual desktop over a private encrypted network.

This will ensure that all UCSF data stays in the United States. HCL has a secure, modern facility and employs technical, procedural and audit controls to prevent its workers from saving, copying or recording data.

This delivery model will provide increased security for administration of UCSF information systems." While the issues raised are in the context of the HCL agreement, the concerns can be applied to almost any offshore contract by any outsourcing firm. Generally, IT security experts say that the data risks are as great in the U.S. as they are overseas. "If data is connected to the Internet it is already accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world," said Jim Christy, VP of investigations and digital forensics at security firm Cymmetria. Laws and protections vary, and the UCSF letter to Feinstein points out the U.S. government's own concerns about India detailed in the U.S.

Trade Representative's annual report on intellectual property protections. Some IT security experts saw merit in the argument that the university should alert researchers, in particular, about where the data will be accessed from. Nathan Wenzler, principal security architect at AsTech Consulting, said researchers should be informed about security -- "that should happen regardless." Researchers should know how the university is protecting and storing data, he said. What is clear is that the data the UCSF has in its care is sensitive. Electronic health records sell at a premium in the criminal world when compared to a consumer's social security number or credit card, said Darren Hayes, an assistant professor and director of cybersecurity at Pace University's Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems in New York. When hospitals admit star athletes, for instance, they may see a spike in hacking efforts. "It's very, very valuable" information, he said. This story, "University IT employees fighting for jobs question data security " was originally published by Computerworld.
Enlarge / Leonardo DiCaprio signs autographs for fans during the Tokyo premiere for "The Revenant" in March.Yuriko Nakao via Getty Images reader comments 74 Share this story The pirate who in December leaked The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie days ahead of their US releases has been ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to 20th Century Fox and was also handed eight months of home confinement, federal prosecutors said. The defendant, William Morarity of the Los Angeles suburb of Lancaster, was working for an undisclosed studio lot when he unlawfully accessed watermarked, screener versions of the films and uploaded them to a private BitTorrent site "Pass the Popcorn," according to his guilty plea (PDF). The Revenant was downloaded more than 1 million times and The Peanuts Movie more than 220,000 times, according to court documents. (PDF) Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said the defendant's behavior is a killer of creativity and jobs. "Mr. Morarity used his position of trust to gain access to sensitive intellectual property, then shared that content online and incurred large-scale losses to the owner of that property," Fike said. "The theft of intellectual property—in this case, major motion pictures—discourages creative incentive and affects the average American making ends meet in the entertainment industry." The authorities initially sought a year in prison, in addition to the restitution.

But the Los Angeles judge presiding over the case opted for home confinement. Morarity's defense argued that the defendant has a spouse and four children, one with autism. Morarity, who went by the online handle "clutchit," is on unemployment insurance and is not likely to pay the restitution order. But the authorities said Morarity did help produce a public service announcement. "Morarity agreed to assist the FBI in the production of a public service announcement to assist the government in educating the public about the harms of copyright infringement and the illegal uploading of movies that are the legal property of the movie studio," Los Angeles prosecutors said in a statement.