The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a press release on Thursday, September 15, making its intentions clear about taking a hard line against gig economy companies that take advantage of their workers. This crackdown by the commission could impact any business that utilizes independent contractors. According to the FTC’s press release:
“The Federal Trade Commission has announced enforcement priorities to fight for consumers who work in jobs that are part of the gig economy. In a new policy statement adopted today, the Commission outlined a number of issues facing gig workers, including deception about pay and hours, unfair contract terms, and anticompetitive wage fixing and coordination between gig economy companies.
“No matter how gig companies choose to classify them, gig workers are consumers entitled to protection under the laws we enforce,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “We are fully committed to coordinating our consumer protection and competition enforcement efforts within the FTC as well as working with other agencies across the government to ensure gig workers are treated fairly.”
“Technological advances and novel business models are no license to commit unfair, deceptive, or anticompetitive practices,” said Elizabeth Wilkins, Director of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning. “We will use all our tools to protect gig workers and promote fair and competitive market practices in the gig economy.”
The statement highlights studies showing that gig work accounts for hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity each year. According to a Federal Reserve report cited in the statement, 16 percent of Americans report earning money through a gig company, and another report shows that more than half of gig workers say the money they earn is essential or important for meeting their needs. Additionally, as noted in the Commission’s recent Serving Communities of Color report, many gig workers come from communities of color. The statement makes clear that, while gig companies may seem novel, traditional principles of consumer protection and competition still apply to them.”