In a major setback for Uber's business model, the labor commissioner of California ruled last month that an Uber driver should be classified as an employee and not an independent contractor.

While the ruling applies to only one driver in San Francisco and does not set a precedent for how Uber compensates its 200,000 drivers, it is one of a growing number of decisions that may have far-reaching implications for service-oriented businesses in the "sharing" economy. Uber says that its drivers are independent contractors and not employees, which means Uber does not consider itself responsible for paying drivers' job-related expenses such as mileage and insurance. Moreover, as contractors, drivers are responsible for paying 100% of the federal payroll tax (FICA/FUTA).

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