“Deactivation bill” would create a framework that delays removal of delivery drivers from platforms for legitimate safety concerns.

SEATTLE, Wash. (May 23, 2023) — The Washington Alliance for Innovation and Independent Work–a coalition of consumers, independent workers, small businesses, app-based services, and community leaders from across Washington state–today came out in opposition to a proposal from the Seattle City Council that would create serious privacy concerns for businesses and customers lodging a complaint against a delivery worker and may impact app-based platforms’ ability to immediately deactivate drivers who use harmful or threatening behavior. Additional Washington-based organizations are also voicing their opposition to the bill.

“While we’re grateful the Council has worked to make much-needed improvements to this bill, the fact remains that this type of costly and overly broad regulation is bad for businesses and consumers. App-based workers are rarely deactivated, but when they are, we need to know that third party platforms have the ability to protect our business partners’ and customers’ right to allege a complaint and to review potentially dangerous behavior and act appropriately,” said Mark Johnson, SVP of Policy and Government Affairs at the Washington Retail Association and a member of the Washington Alliance for Innovation and Independent Work’s Board of Directors.

The bill–which is being introduced in the Public Safety and Human Services Committee today–would limit the ability of platforms to determine whether certain conduct by a driver warrants immediate deactivation. For example, a driver who uses racially insensitive language in the course of a delivery would not be eligible for immediate deactivation under this bill. Also concerning is the lack of privacy protections within the bill. Merchants or customers who lodge a complaint against a driver would risk having their identity disclosed to that driver. This change in policy would likely have a chilling effect on reports of misconduct.

The proposal, the first of its kind at a municipal level, sets back years of progress on creating policies that ensure safe working conditions at Seattle businesses by giving 1099 contractors the right to access private information about a customer who files a complaint leading to deactivation. Nowhere in local employment law is there a comparable provision giving a terminated regular, full-time employee the same type of allowance due to concerns about safety and retribution, and independent contractor law should account for the same concerns.

“Trust is at the heart of our company’s platform. Merchants and customers using our platform need to have faith that if safety concerns arise, we take care of them immediately and that their complaint can remain anonymous,” said Anna Powell, Northwest Government Relations Manager at DoorDash. “We’re grateful that the City Council has made needed improvements to this bill, but believe it still needs further changes. As currently drafted, the Council’s legislation would limit our ability to take action in the rare cases of emotionally harmful behavior and fails to account for consumer and merchant privacy. We are working with the Council and other stakeholders to reach a workable resolution, and want to be clear that this policy is not in the best interest of businesses or consumers in its current form.”

“Our public research, the Index, shows public safety remains a top concern for Seattleites,” said Lars Erickson, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications at the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. “App-based platforms do not need more obstacles to provide safe, reliable service to our residents, and small and local businesses. They need to be able to quickly address potentially dangerous situations. We are asking our city council to put the voters’ priorities first.”

“While driver deactivations should never be taken lightly, this overly broad bill threatens the safety of restaurant workers and customers across Seattle who place legitimate complaints regarding serious misconduct,” said Michael Schutzler, CEO of the Washington Technology Industry Association. “We urge the Seattle City Council to continue to work with industry to ensure the highest standards of personal privacy and public safety on all app-based service platforms.”

“Grocers and other retailers continue to actively monitor and implement measures that ensure the safety of our employees and customers. Public safety is our top priority, and we simply cannot support a proposal that undermines this core belief,” said Tammie Hetrick, president and CEO of the Washington Food Industry Association.

“Throughout the pandemic, app-based workers played a crucial role in supporting Seattle businesses by providing essential services and helping keep consumers safe. This proposal however would jeopardize the safety and privacy of businesses and consumers across the city while creating a separate set of standards for gig workers compared to Seattle‘s at-will employees,” said Ashley Sutton, Executive Director, Washington & Northwest at TechNet. “We strongly encourage the Council to implement policies that align with Seattle’s values of equity by treating all industries fairly and prioritizing the safety of consumers and businesses.”


About the WA Alliance for Innovation and Independent Work
WA Alliance for Innovation and Independent Work is a coalition of consumers, independent workers, small businesses, app-based services, and community leaders from across the state that seeks to strengthen and support advancements in the new workplace. Today, flexible jobs, benefits, and innovative services are essential to enhancing Washington’s emerging economic opportunities and empowering the small businesses and workers who are leading and innovating.