Delivery Gig Provider ‘Shipt; Sued in Minnesota over Worker Classification

This week, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit against grocery delivery company Shipt over allegations they improperly classify their delivery workers. Acquired by Target in 2017—for $550 million—Shipt offers same-day delivery services from a wide range of retail stores across the country. Partnerships include not only Target but also Walgreens, CVS, Costco, and Sephora.

In the suit, AG Ellison alleges that Shipt, Inc has misclassified delivery drivers—or “shoppers” as the company calls them—as independent contractors, which allows them to sidestep the traditional measures like worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance benefits. Furthermore, Ellison advises that even though Shipt claims their workers are not employees but “independent contractors”, the company still controls every element of a “Shopper’s” work.

It may be fortunate for Ellison as the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine, has also recently filed an equivalent lawsuit against Shipt. That in mind, Ellison is now encouraging anyone who currently works for Ship (or any employer they feel has misclassified them especially to avoid honoring benefits) to contact his office or go online to file a complaint.

In his own statement, Racine commented, “Increasingly, we’re seeing companies abuse hard-working District residents by fraudulently calling them independent contractors and, as a result, denying them wages and benefits they ar legally owed.”

In response to the lawsuit, Shipt spokesperson Evangeline George released a statement:

“Shoppers with Shipt are independent contractors, and the flexibility that comes with being an independent contractor is the primary reason Shipt Shoppers choose to earn on our platform.”

Ellison argues, however, that Shipt workers do not have any clarity regarding how much they will earn on a daily basis nor do they receive the equivalent of minimum wage or any overtime to which they may be entitled.

George goes on to assert they strongly disagree with the allegations filed by the Minnesota AG Ellison and will continue to advocate the flexible opportunity they offer to Shoppers.

With that in mind, the Biden administration very recently released a proposal aimed at making it easier for the court system to reclassify gig workers who are employed by major gig providers like DoorDash, Uber, and Lyft. And in September the FTC defined new clarifications for the gig economy in order to better protect gig workers.