Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed June 17 2015 13:52:49

Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

By: Ina Steiner

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The California Labor Commission has found a driver of the "ride-sharing" service Uber to be an employee of the company, not a contractor, according to an article in the Huffington Post. A reader questions whether the same logic could be applied to eBay sellers.

"I thought this story might interest you," the seller wrote. "Specifically this paragraph on why the commission rules the drivers were employees: "But the commission said Uber controls the tools driver use, monitors their approval ratings and terminates their access to the system if their ratings fall below 4.6 stars.""

He suggested reading the article and replacing "Uber" with "eBay" - "it seems exactly the same to me."

The reaction from those who think of eBay when it first stated might be to laugh off the comparison. But the marketplace has so many rules and restrictions and so much control over sellers nowadays, it may not be such a stretch these days after all.

As online sellers, what do you think? Do you still feel like an entrepreneur, or do you feel like you're "working for the man"? And could the same apply to selling on Amazon or other marketplaces? Why or why not?




Comments (49) | Leave Comment | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jun 17 14:26:37 2015

Maybe Uber need to get in good with the administration, like the Donahoe family.  

''...nothing more than a neutral technology platform'' sure translates a lot like ''We are only a venue''


Based on the logic used by the CLC with Uber, I can see where ''employee'' status could be considered given eBay omnipresence in seller's business:

They certainly control tools and what we are allowed to put in listings, monitor ratings (hello! - bots, guardrail and buyer reminders), and give sellers the boot - by rendering them invisible or suspension.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Wed Jun 17 15:14:17 2015

Oh we are working for the man all right.  The bad man.

I think if the California Labor Commission reviewed the eBay seller-eBay relationship carefully, they'd find even more evidence that we are working for the bad man.  And bad man continues to eat away at our paycheck like a moth eats fine Italian wool.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie

Wed Jun 17 15:41:49 2015

If eBay sellers are legally determined to be eBay ''employees'', does that mean that eBay itself is now liable for the actions of a bad seller? Can the ''employee'' seller simply refer any lawsuits directly to eBay... the ''employer''?

Copyright infringement... piracy... stolen goods... fraud... counterfeits... lies and other misrepresentations... is the bad seller/employee no longer accountable?

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

by: ajeweler This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 16:19:38 2015

I sincerely hope so, I have over 12 years and 12-14 hours a day into ebay, would be nice even if I received minimum wage, and would be great if the ho had to pay it from his pocket, with all the rules and restrictions I feel more like e bay THINKS THEY ARE MY PARENTS and I am a child do this don't do that this is allowed only to have the reps baby sitters tell you no you cannot, yep I would join the suit for sure, and watch tat ship sink

Note in 60 years I have never had to sue anyone this would be a first

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by: Dexter Morgan This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 19:31:09 2015

If I am now considered an eBay "employee" I had better start receiving my weekly checks from my employer EBAY on top of the $$ I receive from my customers for the items they purchase from me.

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by: Dexter Morgan This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 19:33:33 2015

For the life of me I cannot remember paying any other employer to work for them.

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Jun 17 19:38:10 2015

Will eBay need to start supplying 1099s to all the sellers?

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Wed Jun 17 19:57:37 2015

Interesting question. Usually it has been the case that if, as a “contractor”, the work you do is provided by a single entity then, regardless, you will be considered an employee of that entity for the purposes of statutory workplace benefits and income tax collection, etc, and especially so if you make use of the premises of the work-providing entity.

However, I can’t see a correlation between Uber drivers and eBay sellers (eBay is not providing work in anything like the same sense); the link is too weak.

What then is the current situation with cab drivers who own their own cab? And even such a cab driver is not directly comparable to a Uber driver because the Uber driver does get all his “work” from that single entity, Uber, whereas the cab driver does not get all his work from such a single entity.

Still, it’s a nice thought that somehow eBay might be liable for so much. Sheesh, I’d be happy to see them being subjected to the RICO statute for their blatant, calculated, facilitation of shill bidding wire on the consumers of the world …

The eBay executive suite—where the incompetent mingle with the disingenuous, the malevolent and the outright criminal, and the just plain stupid … http://bit.ly/11F2eas  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Shop and Ship

Wed Jun 17 20:38:29 2015

Doesn't Uber actually make the vehicle or "tools of the trade" available thru credit arrangements, and thereby is distinguishable from eBay which doesn't provide anyone with anything useful or productive?  

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

by: aim04744 This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 20:39:43 2015

Yes, it does seem that this ruling would classify us as employees. However if we were to pursue this, that would open a can of worms that we dont like. Like being open to being fired..... Is California an At Will state of a Right To Work state?

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

This user has validated their user name. by: Basset

Wed Jun 17 21:25:52 2015

I guess the question is:  was reasoning used in CLC decision correct?  I read somewhere Uber is appealing.


Based on some experiences described on this site:
 
parallel between Uber and eBay would be if an Uber Driver was ready and available to give someone a ride, but Uber hid their available status - leaving driver to sit and wonder why he/she is not getting any calls.

Then a call comes in, rider complains all the way to destination and then requests a chargeback on their credit card because the trip was not as expected and it took longer to arrive than estimated.

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by: AgendaSwallowsAll This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 22:03:10 2015

What this has to do with ( the ruling ) is the level of control Uber now has over its drivers. They don't run their business at this point in time due to an ever escalating ''It is what it is because I say it is'' policies set in place as the entity has evolved,  most of which were intended to lessen their liability and/or making the Co. more profitable in unorthodox ways at the expense of their drivers.

JD & Co. may not be next, they have a lot of friends in high places but the day is coming because friends in high places want to remain in ''high places'', they'll be jumping ship the more ground this ruling gains.

If anyone doesn't believe what was stated in paragraph #1 doesn't 100 percent apply to what eBay has done  under JD & Co's watch they're only kidding themselves. We are in fact employees of eBay at this point in time and have been for at least 4-5 years.

''It is what it is because I say it is'' doesn't understand the definition of intellect, only a blind-sighted agenda.

AgendaSwallowsAll, that reality is approaching JD & Co.  

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by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 00:15:30 2015

If we're eBay employees, we'd get W2s, not 1099s.

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

by: ConnecticutGal This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 00:18:41 2015

Will they give us health care insurance?

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

by: BB2 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 00:44:42 2015

@aim04744 - CA is an At-Will state.

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by: brokentoys19 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 01:04:50 2015

As mere "noise", (read: not human, therefore having no rights) ebayers are not entitled to any special classification. Much the same way as the USPS is your employee when you use them to send a widget.

So don't bother the US Dept of Labor or any state agencies with any nonsense about ebay seller status re: contractor vs employee under definition of law.

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by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 02:17:28 2015

I suspect we shall soon all have background checks;  scrutiny of our prior employment and education; finger printing;  drug testing and be forced to turn over our FaceBook and LinkedIn passwords.  

We probably will not have any sort of benefits such as health insurance; vacation; sick days; workers compensation; FMLA; social security disability coverage; or equal rights protections.

Same old same old---SSDD---ebay is seemingly Untouchable and that does leave me to wonder--why.

I second the RICO request---this is where I think some eager young AG will decide to go after them and I wish him joy with that.  

Am I--bitter?  Well I guess you might say that!  I HAD a thriving small business using my own COMMON SENSE up til a few years ago when ebay started to contradict every one of it's OWN RULES---now I am lucky if I sell enough to buy a pizza every once in a while.  My items are not seen and therefor can't be sold;  every once in a great while the portals will open just long enough for me to make a few--a VERY few--sales and then they will slam shut.  When I can't even find my OWN stuff on there--much less things I KNOW are on there--I have to say the site has FAILED. What was it some one here said the other day???  Never has a business worked so HARD to destroy it's own customers?  

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 03:44:54 2015

Yes I would say Ebay is the employer as they dictate every stage of their seller's business, exposure and number of sales allowed to be made. They also have control over postage labels, and postage costs.  

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by: Reds This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Thu Jun 18 07:25:18 2015

After 8 years of working for or with E-bay I cancelled my store subscription and basically am giving up on trying to keep up with the crap that rolls down hill. Sales are nill, people someone bought an $650.00 item last week and said there kid did it? The item was even paid for through pay pal? What a place to try and run a businees! Etsy and Bonanza have not sold any products of mine in a year or so. Walmart is listing my items on Wayfair.com and Walmart.com at map with Free Shipping. Niche selling is great till Walmart gets ya!

Perminate Link for Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?   Are eBay Sellers Employees According to Uber Ruling?

by: NetSellsIt This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 08:20:51 2015

Can I file for unemployment?

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