A chess-playing robot took enforcement a bit too seriously at a recent tournament in Moscow. Facing a 9-year old human opponent, the robot grabbed and broke the boy’s index finger when the boy reached toward the board when it was the robot’s turn to move. When you’re a robot, rules are rules.
The robot had been in use for 15 years (and the boy had been in use only 9). Neither robot nor boy had any known history of delinquency, but this sounds like a textbook case of bullying. And there’s video!
In an unrelated matter, New York Governor Kathy Hochul was not going to be bullied by the state legislature into signing a recently passed bill that would have imposed new requirements on the use of individual independent contractors.
Hochul vetoed the proposed Freelance Isn’t Free Act on the grounds that it imposed inappropriate burdens on the NY State Department of Labor. In her veto statement, she wrote that the state DOL “could not implement the legislation effectively” because it required the DOL to oversee private contracts between businesses and non-employees. That’s well outside the DOL’s mission of enforcing labor protections for employees.
The law would have required written contracts with individual freelancers, with various types of mandatory disclosures in each contract.
The proposed law was a statewide version of New York City’s Freelance Isn’t Free Act, which NYC enacted in 2016. A summary of the NYC law is here. In 2017, the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs published an additional set of rules implementing the act and adding new restrictions that were not in the original law.
Because the 2022 legislative session has ended, the NY state assembly cannot override her veto, but the bill could be reintroduced in 2023.
If the assembly wants to try again, it might try another version that does not involve the DOL, since this is not a misclassification bill and is not a matter between employers and employees. For the bill to be effective, it would need a suitable yet aggressive enforcer of the new rules.
I know of a chess-playing robot in Moscow that might be available.
© 2023 Todd Lebowitz, posted on WhoIsMyEmployee.com, Exploring Issues of Independent Contractor Misclassification and Joint Employment. All rights reserved.