CA Judge Orders Uber To Reclassify All Their Drivers As Employees
A judge in California ordered Uber and Lyft to reclassify their workers from independent contractors to employees with benefits. This order was made recently in July 2020 and can be very impactful if it survives the appeals process.
Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled Monday that both the companies' thousands of contract drivers should be given the same protections and benefits under labor law as other employees of the ride-hailing companies. All drivers in California should be converted to employees with benefits and the companies have avoided this for years because they use "circular reasoning" in their logic by treating only their tech workers as employees.
"Were this reasoning to be accepted, the rapidly expanding majority of industries that rely heavily on technology could with impunity deprive legions of workers of the basic protections afforded to employees by state labor and employment laws," Schulman wrote.
The judge has also exclaimed that Uber and Lyft have both unanimously decided to simply refuse to comply with a California law passed last year which made it more difficult to hire workers are contractors. This was passed with the intention to make gig economy workers such as drivers have access to health insurance, worker's compensation and paid sick leave. As independent contractors, Uber and Lyft drivers are not provided these benefits.
Schulman said in the filing that "It bears emphasis that these harms are not mere abstractions; they represent real harms to real working people," and "Drivers are central, not tangential, to Uber and Lyft's entire ride-hailing business." They can not be regarded as independent from the company when over 60% of the revenue also comes from ride-sharing which helps fund their growth into new ventures.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra had also filed a lawsuit against Uber for their misclassification of Drivers and called the judge's preliminary order a victory for drivers.
"The court has weighed in and agreed: Uber and Lyft need to put a stop to unlawful misclassification of their drivers while our litigation continues," the Attorney General said in a statement. "Our state and workers shouldn't have to foot the bill when big businesses try to skip out on their responsibilities. We're going to keep working to make sure Uber and Lyft play by the rules."
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