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Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced a lawsuit against Shipt, Inc. on Thursday, alleging the gig economy company owned by Target Corp. cheated delivery workers out of employment protections guaranteed by state law. 

The announcement comes in conjunction with a similar lawsuit against Shipt announced Thursday by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine

The lawsuit filed in Hennepin County District Court alleges the company has misclassified its delivery workers, or "Shoppers", as independent contractors to avoid the cost of employment protections guaranteed by state law. 

The AG's office alleges the misclassification prevents employees from accessing state unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation benefits in addition to depriving employees of local minimum wage protections, local sick and safe time protections, overtime protections, and state law protections that guarantee employees what they will be paid for the work they perform. 

“I’m suing Shipt because instead of playing by the rules most Minnesota employers play by, Shipt is taking advantage of Minnesotans to enrich itself while leaving workers to fend for themselves," Ellison said in a statement. 

The AG's investigation allegedly found that while Shipt claims that "Shoppers" run their own businesses, Shipt controls virtually every facet of a Shopper's work, leaving them with no ability to set the terms of their work and barring shoppers from creating independent, self-sustaining businesses outside of Shipt's app. 

“Shipt has modeled its entire business on shifting its duties and obligations as an employer from itself onto its workers, even though Shipt could not exist without its ‘Shoppers'," Ellison stated. "On top of that, Shipt has done everything it can to make sure that workers have no power to fix this unfair system of misclassification on their own. That is why the Attorney General’s Office had to step in.”

Shipt, which was bought by Target in 2017, has indicated it'll fight both lawsuits. 

“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," Evangeline George, a spokesperson for Shipt, said in a statement Thursday.

"We strongly disagree with the action taken by the Minnesota Attorney General, and we’ll continue advocating for Shoppers and the opportunity to earn flexible income across Minnesota.” 

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