More Federal Protections for Gig Workers?


The Federal Trade Commission, which is not typically involved in employment matters, has decided to throw its weight behind protecting the interests of gig workers from “unfair, deceptive and anticompetitive practices.” The FTC has issued a policy statement that identifies its concerns and the actions that it intends to take.

Gig workers earn income from on-demand work, often through online gig platforms like apps. They are typically categorized as independent contractors, but federal and state agencies have challenged this categorization where the companies for whom they work “tightly prescribe and control their workers’ tasks in ways that run counter to the promise of independence.” The misclassification of gig workers as independent contractors, by which employers avoid certain employment rights, has become an issue of great interest.

The FTC has identified certain enforcement priorities with regard to gig workers to include:

  • Holding gig companies accountable for their claims and conduct concerning gig work’s costs and benefits, such as deceptive or unfair pay practices and undisclosed costs or terms of work.
  • Combating unlawful practices and unlawful constraints imposed on gig workers, such as the use of improper/unfair algorithmic tools and unfair contractual terms and restrictions on mobility.
  • Policing unfair methods of competition that harm gig workers, like wage fixing and coordination between companies, and market consolidation and monopolization.

The FTC states that it will partner with other agencies, including the Department of Justice and the National Labor Relations Board (as we discussed in our July 2022 E-Update) on its initiatives and enforcement efforts.