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Seattle moves one step closer to protecting gig workers from abrupt termination

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A Seattle city council committee has approved an ordinance that sets guidelines for app-based companies to provide notice and an appeals process before terminating workers.

Last year, Carmen Figueroa was fired after four years of delivery work at GrubHub. She told the council committee it took a while before she found out what prevented her from being able to accept new work orders, making her “deactivated” as it’s called in the industry.

“I received an email that stated I had been deactivated due to adverse behavior and activities that negatively impacts the delivery experience across the platform, which means nothing.”

RELATED: Seattle introduces legislation to protect gig workers from abrupt termination

The proposal would require companies to provide reasons for deactivating workers that are based on investigations and related to company operations. It’s part of a suite of legislation aimed at increasing labor protections for an estimated 40,000 gig workers, who provide delivery and scheduled tasks through apps such as DoorDash and TaskRabbit.

In May 2022, the council approved legislation that ensured minimum pay and mileage for the time it takes to provide service.

In March of this year, the city council approved paid sick leave, allowing gig workers to accrue one day of paid leave for every 30 days worked.

Councilmember Lisa Herbold, the bill's co-sponsor, said these are necessary protections.

“This industry is the fastest growing sector of the workforce — folks who are otherwise not protected by our labor laws.”

That’s because app-based companies consider gig workers to be independent contractors, not employees.

Councilmember Alex Pedersen voted against the proposal, even though he supported previous policies governing app-based companies.

“I believe it’s our responsibility to be careful in how we craft and launch new wide-reaching regulations,” he said.

The ordinance will go before the full council next month.

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