Lowman v. Unemployment Compensation Board of Review, Pennsylvania Supreme Court, No. 41 EAP 2018, May 13, 2019  

Issue: Whether Uber drivers are self-employed, disqualifying them from unemployment compensation. 

Summary: NELP’s brief, filed on behalf of Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, argues that Uber drivers, and others employed by “gig” employers through online platforms, are not self-employed and should not be disqualified from unemployment compensation.

Like traditional employees, Uber drivers face the possibility of both involuntary termination and having “good cause” reason to leave their position. This can occur through Uber deactivating them or changing the material terms of their work. The income instability created by the nature of “gig” jobs increases workers’ need for the safety net of unemployment compensation.

Denying “gig” workers unemployment compensation reduces financial security for workers and their families, deprives workers of the skills training and job search resources of the unemployment system, and reduces the economic stimulus effect of unemployment insurance. Workers employed through online platforms are a growing segment of Pennsylvania’s economy, a trend that may be accelerated if employers can avoid paying into unemployment insurance by moving to an online “gig” model.  

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