Presunta “clasificación errónea ilegal” de los mensajeros de comida de DoorDash ha dado lugar a que la fiscal de distrito emprenda acción legal. Foto por Lydia Chávez DoorDash's alleged "illegal misclassification" of its food couriers today resulted in legal action from the DA. Photo by Lydia Chávez

San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin today filed an unfair business practices action against food delivery service outfit DoorDash — which has persistently classified its workers as independent contractors and not employees, in the face of California law. 

“I assure you this is just the first step among many to fight for worker safety and equal enforcement of the law,” said Boudin at today’s virtual press conference. This action will be led by Assistant District Attorney Scott Stillman’s Economic Crimes Against Workers Unit — “and I did not bring ADA Stillman into the office to file one lawsuit,” Boudin continued.

Messages for DoorDash were not returned as of press time. 

Today’s action was filed under section 17200 of the state Business and Professions Code, which applies to “any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act.” Either a DA or a City Attorney can take action under this code — and, in fact, City Attorney Dennis Herrera in May joined colleagues in Los Angeles and San Diego in filing a suit against Uber and Lyft for allegedly miscategorizing their workers.  

Under the California Supreme Court’s “Dynamex” decision from April 2018, a three-point test was established to determine whether workers should be classified as employees or independent contractors. 

No reasonable interpretation of that ruling could lead to determining Doordash workers — or, for that matter, Uber and Lyft drivers, or many others — as anything but employees. 

News broke in April 2019 that DoorDash was applying tips given to its workers to apply to their base wages instead of serving as a gratuity — leading to a complaint being filed against the company with the city’s Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement.  

In September 2019, the “Dynamex” decision was essentially codified as law under AB5, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego). 

“When you think about theft, you don’t often think about wage theft,” said Gonzalez, who attended today’s virtual presser. “If an employee stole from their boss, they’d go to jail. But employers steal from workers, in large amounts, every day.” 

By misclassifying workers as independent contractors instead of employees, companies can shirk on paying minimum wage, providing mandated breaks, and providing healthcare or sick days. Workers in such conditions are subsidized by the social safety net — which is, in turn, subsidized by taxpayers and law-abiding companies. 

“DoorDash has long been an exploitative employer,” UC Hastings labor law professor Veena Dubal told Mission Local. “Like Uber, the company’s business model is based on the fiction that their workers are independent contractors. This means that the people whose labor has created the company’s sky-high valuation do not have access to a wage floor, to workers’ compensation if they are injured, or to unemployment insurance if they are laid off through no fault of their own.”  

During the ongoing pandemic, Dubal continued, these workers have been further deemed “essential,” and have been “risking their lives to get food from restaurants to families in lockdown.”

“DoorDash has been vigorously fighting claims of employment by their delivery drivers,” said Dubal. “This lawsuit today — brought by the district attorney of San Francisco — puts the weight of the state behind these claims.”

DoorDash Complaint by Joe Eskenazi on Scribd

Update, 2:20 p.m.: A statement from Max Rettig, DoorDash Global Head of Public Policy:

Now more than ever, Californians from all walks of life look to DoorDash for flexible earnings opportunities, working on average a few hours per week. Throughout the pandemic, DoorDash has supported Dashers on and off the road with free safety equipment, telemedicine, earnings replacement, and more. Today’s action seeks to disrupt the essential services Dashers provide, stripping hundreds of thousands of students, teachers, parents, retirees and other Californians of valuable work opportunities, depriving local restaurants of desperately needed revenue, and making it more difficult for consumers to receive prepared food, groceries, and other essentials safely and reliably. We will fight to continue providing Dashers the flexible earning opportunities they say they want in these challenging times.

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Managing Editor/Columnist. Joe was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left.

“Your humble narrator” was a writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015, and a senior editor at San Francisco Magazine from 2015 to 2017. You may also have read his work in the Guardian (U.S. and U.K.); San Francisco Public Press; San Francisco Chronicle; San Francisco Examiner; Dallas Morning News; and elsewhere.

He resides in the Excelsior with his wife and three (!) kids, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.

The Northern California branch of the Society of Professional Journalists named Eskenazi the 2019 Journalist of the Year.

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  1. Always with the “drug dealers” BS argument (yes, drugs are illegal – stupidly illegal – but nonetheless illegal until finally legalized, taxed, controlled, and treatment options upped as well). We’ve been ‘fighting’ the ‘drug war’ for like 75 years now and trillions wasted – so how’s that been working out? Jeez, think outside your box much? But no, idiots like you ALWAYS point the finger at those ‘street’ type crimes, while guys like Trump, etc., are actually destroying/bringing down our system by looting everything that belongs to us the people. Get your priorities straight!

  2. Think the DA has his priorities backwards.
    The workers should be protected but this falls into the Califiornia Attorney General’s office.
    To bring to court.
    SF DA here’s a thought, handle the mess we all have to live under at this time.
    The crime, thiefs drug dealing that we all see around us, how about bringing this to court, so we don’t have to be locked in our homes.
    That’s the real problem…

  3. A problem these types of companies have is how much work they can guarantee that is why they seek independent contractors. They function not on having individuals working 40 hours but having the flexibility for both the contractor and the workflow. It should be caution to the individuals that sign up for this source of work. Not punish the companies that provide this source. I agree with some of the other comments on pulling service from cities like this, they don’t fit the business model and hurt part time potentials for those who need it by over regulating. San Fransisco DA get your knee off this resource.

  4. Doordash, AirBNB, Uber, etc. the “New economy, ” The Gigisters . The Only Me acolytes of Ayn Rand and the Koch Bros. “I don’t have to follow the rules like everyone else” people. The same ones who are funding the massive campaign against the ballot initiative to reform them (remember JUHL last time). Lawless companies that steal from everyone, their employees, their suppliers, the taxpayers, all of us. Don’t be thoughtful be Libertarian. Defend these selfish scum?

  5. The fact that Doordash was recognizing tips as part of wage puts them in the bad actor category. Have read elsewhere that these Delivery services also gouge the restaurant… maybe it’s time for them to go the way of Kozmo.

  6. Only in san Francisco this
    If I was the boss of doordash I will say goodbye sf no more service let the people loose ther job

    1. They don’t have a job, remember? it is supposedly just a little side gig for a few hours a week, which is how DoorDash justifies not treating them as employees. Anyways, would be curious to know how may of these folks actually live in SF – every Uber driver I meet lives in the East Bay.

  7. This is an incredibly silly and ignorant thing to post. “Squaring off with loafer-wearing DoorDash attorneys is the easiest thing to do,” are you serious? You think the DA’s office is refusing to prosecute petty crime because they’re scared of some random street dealer’s public defender? You think “it costs nothing” to pick a fight with a law-flouting tech company in San Francisco? Get real.

  8. Interesting. I think at some point AB 5 will be rolled back a bit – both for good reasons (it basically eliminates any TRUE independent contractors as we commonly understand it) and bad (bad actors…we all know who….have been and will continue to throw bajillions of dollars at this to try to make it go away). Seems to me DoorDash falls on the bad side – their business model is built on not having employee costs, and their response is laughable.

  9. When he sues drug dealers for all the harm they cause slinging their poison and keeping TL residents hostage, he can be taken seriously as law enforcement official. Squaring off with loafer-wearing DoorDash attorneys is the easiest thing to do. It costs Boudin nothing to do this instead of really protecting residents by going after street criminals.

    1. Confused — 

      While the City Attorney has handled cases like this in the past, 17200 suits can be filed by a DA or a City Attorney.

      Our City Attorney is handling a lot of proactive cases. Perhaps it was time for someone else to do it.



  10. So he won’t prosecute violent crimes or do anything to stop the city from becoming a cesspool. He chooses this as his big move. Totally freaking useless.