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Journal Article

The Growing Role of Localities in the United States in Enacting and Enforcing Protections for Gig Economy Workers


As the gig economy has expanded, New York City and Seattle, two progressive cities in the United States, have become leaders in regulating working conditions in the platform economy in recent years through legislation and enforcement. Other localities have also brought enforcement actions to enforce platform workers’ rights, recovering millions of dollars for workers. Within the federalist system of the United States, cities and localities may be well-suited to advance protections for platform workers. Localities are new actors in the worker protection space and are innovating to meet the evolving needs of constituents, community and advocacy organizations, and local economies. To some extent, localities also have been able to sidestep the broader worker classification issues faced by states and the federal government by simply mandating labor standards regardless of classification. City action may be well-suited because a high concentration of platform workers live and work in urban areas, and because such communities are often disproportionately affected by traffic and congestion caused by platform work. Localities in the United States and beyond may be a source of untapped potential for advancing and protecting platform workers’ rights in a variety of ways.

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