Bay Area/ San Francisco/ Politics & Govt
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Published on February 22, 2024
San Francisco City Attorney Secures $2.1 Million Deal Forcing Gig Company Qwick to Reclassify Workers as EmployeesSource: City Attorney of San Francisco

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu isn't playing games regarding workers' rights. The City Attorney's Office hammered out a $2.1 million deal with gig economy company Qwick, forcing them to reclassify their California workforce from independent contractors to bonafide employees. This move promises workers the benefits they've been denied — including paid sick leave, health care, and family leave.

Fighting for the little guy, Chiu's agreement with Qwick, announced today, is pinpointed as groundbreaking. In 2023, the City Attorney sued the Arizona-based company, alleging flagrant worker misclassification in the hospitality industry. These workers, alongside hotel and restaurant employees, toiled under the guise of independence yet were stripped of the protections rightfully theirs. According to a statement on the City Attorney's website, Qwick has been pressured to pay up $1.5 million in restitution and cough up to $350,000 in accrued sick leave hours for the staffers staying on as employees.

Chiu didn't hold back, describing the work in hospitality as "grueling" and asserting his stance that hotel and restaurant workers are "deserving of fair treatment." This proposed judgment aims to put money back where it belongs – in workers' pockets. "This proposed judgment puts money back in the pockets of workers, and ensures that they will have the full complement of employee rights and benefits moving forward," Chiu disclosed in the City Attorney's Office's news release.

Backing the settlement, Lorena Gonzalez, Chief Officer of the CA Labor Federation, praised the City Attorney's efforts, "For too long, corporations have gotten away with misclassifying workers as independent contractors to cheat them out of wages and basic rights," she bared the truth in appreciation of Chiu's enforcement efforts. Lorena highlighted the settlement as an embodiment of ideal enforcement efforts: a permanent injunction to reclassify workers, restitution, and penalties replenishing the city's coffers for future battles.

Ensuring compliance through 2026, the City's Worker Protection Team will keep their eyes on Qwick. This vigilance, necessary to uphold the promise of employee classification, was fought for by a legal team dedicated to guarding those who cater to us at our tables and behind the scenes. The settlement, awaiting the green light from the San Francisco Superior Court, is set to become a beacon of hope, signifying a shift towards accountability and equity in the gig economy.

For veracity, UNITE HERE Local 2's President, Anand Singh praised the City Attorney’s Office's pursuit of law enforcement in San Francisco. "Employers should be on notice that they can't get away with worker misclassification here in our city," he said, signaling a new dawn for the hospitality workforce and setting a precedent likely to echo across the gig industry in California and beyond.