Employment Classification: California Drives Away Rideshare Giants and Threatens the Future of Independent Contractors

*Michael Blanchard

I. Introduction

Uber and other rideshare companies are making headlines as California seeks to bring an end to the classification of drivers as independent contractors.[1]  In a recently filed lawsuit, California Labor Commissioner, Lilia García-Brower, demands that rideshare companies reclassify drivers and is seeking millions of dollars in civil penalties, in addition to unpaid payroll and benefit taxes.[2]  The Commissioner argues that by continuing to improperly classify drivers as independent contractors, rideshare companies have not only avoided paying taxes and expenses, but also unfairly deprived their drivers of the right to basic employment benefits.[3]  

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Highest Case Note from Write-On 2020: Kazadi v. State, 467 Md. 1, 223 A.3d 554 (2020)

*Joshua Gehret

The Maryland Court of Appeals held that the Circuit Court for Baltimore County abused its discretion when, upon request during voir dire, it declined to question prospective jurors’ willingness and ability to follow jury instructions on fundamental principles of the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and the defendant’s right to not testify, overruling Twining v. State.  Kazadi v. State, 467 Md. 1, 223 A.3d 554 (2020).

I. Introduction

In Kazadi v. State, the Court of Appeals of Maryland (Court of Appeals) overruled its decision in Twining v. State,  holding that trial courts commit an abuse of discretion when declining to ask prospective jurors whether they can follow the court’s instructions on the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and the defendant’s right not to testify.[1]  To reach this decision, the Court of Appeals determined that significant changes in the law superseded Twining.[2]  The Court’s decision mandates that trial courts question prospective jurors—about the presumption of innocence, the burden of proof, and the defendant’s right not to testify—if requested during voir dire.[3]  The Kazadi holding adopts the presumption that jurors may be unable or unwilling to follow the law according to the trial court’s instructions, which may significantly affect how Maryland courts conduct voir dire and help ensure selection of impartial juries.[4]

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Should We Beware of “Ban-the-Box” Laws?

*Catalina Habeych

Recidivism rates in the United States are some of the highest in the world.  See Christina Sterbenz, Why Norway’s Prison System Is So Successful, Bus. Insider (Dec. 11, 2014, 1:31 PM), https://www.businessinsider.com/why-norways-prison-system-is-so-successful-2014-12.  Persons with a criminal history face high unemployment rates, which lead to higher recidivism rates based on various studies.  Sachi Barreiro, What Is a Ban-the-Box Law?, NOLO, https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/what-is-a-ban-the-box-law.html (last visited June 15, 2020).  One possible contributor to the high levels of unemployment and recidivism among former offenders in the U.S. is the hiring practice of asking applicants to reveal information about prior convictions in their job applications.  See generally Nicole Fortier & Abigail Finkelman, Stemming the Tide of Recidivism: Banning ‘the Box’, Am. Prospect (May 14, 2014), https://prospect.org/justice/stemming-tide-recidivism-banning-the-box/.  As a result, laws prohibiting employers from asking applicants about their criminal history on initial job applications have gained popularity throughout the U.S.  See Roy Maurer, Ban-the-Box Movement Goes Viral, SHRM (Mar. 10, 2016), https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/risk-management/pages/ban-the-box-movement-viral.aspx.

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The “Migrant Protection Protocol”: Why the Trump Administration’s Unprecedented Immigration Policy Does Not Protect Migrants, But Puts Them in Danger

*Emma Dorris

I. Introduction

In February 2019, the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies sued the Trump Administration (the Administration) on behalf of “11 individual asylum seekers and organizational plaintiffs.”  Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf, ACLU (Mar. 9, 2020), https://www.aclu.org/cases/innovation-law-lab-v-wolf; Kate Morrisey & Sandra Dibble, ACLU Sues Trump Administration over ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy for Asylum Seekers, San Diego Union-Tribune (Feb. 14, 2019, 2:40 PM), https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/immigration/sd-me-families-returned-20190214-story.html.  The lawsuit challenges the Trump Administration’s implementation of its striking  immigration policy, the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” Policy, which forces “asylum seekers to return to Mexico and remain there while their cases are considered.”  Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf, supra

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Digital as Fundamental: Evaluating the Right to Internet Access in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

*Yitzchak Besser

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced tens of millions of Americans into their homes, as states across the country have ordered lockdowns and isolation protocols.  Minyvonne Burke & Isobel van Hagen, 75 Million Americans Under Virtual Lockdown After Italy Suffers Huge Rise in Deaths, NBC (Mar. 21, 2020, 9:30 AM), https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/75-million-americans-under-virtual-lockdown-after-italy-suffers-huge-n1165591.  These stay-at-home orders have dramatically altered how Americans view and use the Internet.  As options in the physical world have become restricted, people have turned to the digital world for alternatives.  Gregory Porumbescu, The Digital Divide Leaves Millions at a Disadvantage During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Conversation (Mar. 18, 2020, 8:07 AM), https://theconversation.com/the-digital-divide-leaves-millions-at-a-disadvantage-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic-133608.

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