SAN FRANCISCO CITY Attorney David Chiu has announced the filing of a lawsuit against an on-demand hospitality staffing company that has allegedly misclassified workers and denied them guaranteed wages and benefits.
Filed Thursday on behalf of the people of California and San Francisco, the lawsuit alleges that the Arizona-based company Qwick’s treatment of food and beverage workers like bussers, dishwashers and servers as independent contractors is illegal.
The company’s business model is centered around matching on-demand, experienced food and beverage workers with shifts at restaurants and event production companies. Qwick workers work alongside full-time employees as servers, bussers, bartenders, baristas and event staff.
Qwick considers their workers as freelancers and independent contractors, but Chiu alleges that the workers are Qwick employees “by every legal standard under California law.”
‘Inequality disguised as innovation’
He alleges that the company interviews workers, watches their performance, determines shift eligibility and can terminate them if they perform poorly. He added that workers allegedly receive their payment directly from Qwick.
Because of the alleged misclassification, workers are unable to receive overtime, meals and rest breaks, health care or paid leave.
Chiu alleged that the misclassification gives Qwick an “unfair business advantage” over businesses abiding by law.
“It is entirely possible to legally provide last minute or temporary staffing to businesses in the food and beverage industry,” reads a press release from Chiu’s office. “Many temporary staffing agencies do just that, but those workers are rightfully designated as employees.”
Chiu stated that as Labor Day approaches, he wants to affirm that he will protect workers from being exploited by new business models.
“Qwick is inequality disguised as innovation, a staffing company with an app that is in flagrant violation of labor and employment laws. It uses convenience and flexibility to mask its decision to deny workers their rights,” Chiu said in a statement.
“If this illegal business model is allowed to take hold, hundreds of thousands of positions in the food and beverage industry risk illegal misclassification, and hospitality workers will be pushed into poverty,” he added.
Qwick was not immediately available for comment on the lawsuit.