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Business & Economy

Uber, labor law, and the state of the 'sharing economy'




An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC on March 25, 2015. Uber said it was ramping up safety in response to rape allegations against a driver in India and growing concerns about background checks for operators of the popular ride-sharing service. In other cities where Uber operates, critics had complained that a lack of licensing and background checks of drivers could imperil those who use the service. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS        (Photo credit should read Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
An UBER application is shown as cars drive by in Washington, DC on March 25, 2015. Uber said it was ramping up safety in response to rape allegations against a driver in India and growing concerns about background checks for operators of the popular ride-sharing service. In other cities where Uber operates, critics had complained that a lack of licensing and background checks of drivers could imperil those who use the service. AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS (Photo credit should read Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

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A  judge fined Uber's California subsidiary $7.3 million for refusing to give state regulators information about the company's business practices, including when Uber drivers refuse ride requests and how accessible vehicles are to disabled riders.

The ride-hailing service called the ruling "deeply disappointing" and said it would appeal the decision.

Wednesday's ruling by an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission addressed some of the many legal issues surrounding Uber and how it should be regulated.

Another fundamental legal issue for Uber and other businesses in the 'sharing economy,' like Lyft and errand-outsourcer TaskRabbit, is whether workers should be classified as employees or independent contractors. That distinction was addressed in guidelines issued by the U.S. Labor Department Wednesday.  

For more on how the Labor Department directive and the ruling against Uber might change the state of the 'sharing economy,' Take Two spoke with Loyola Law Professor Michael Waterstone, who specializes in employment law.

Waterstone said that it's unclear how significant the ruling and directive will be, but since "there's an innovative, disruptive model for just about anything now," he thinks this is "just the tip of the iceberg."

To listen to Take Two's entire interview with Michael Waterstone, please click on the audio player above.