Current DateSeptember 24, 2021

Uber and Lyft called on to requalify their drivers as employees

In California, the AB5 law passed in September 2019 obliges ridesharing platforms such as Uber or Lyft to hire their drivers and grant them employee status. A law that took effect on January 1, 2020, but which is still not applied by these companies.

This week, a Californian judge, however, issued an injunction, requiring these two companies to reclassify the status of their drivers within 10 days. Uber decided to appeal this decision immediately to escape it, at least temporarily. Nevertheless, the noose is tightening on Uber and Lyft according to which drivers prefer the status of contractors, which deprives them of the benefits associated with wage employment (guaranteed minimum wage, supervised overtime, access to health insurance and paid leave, various compensations linked to the use of a personal vehicle, etc.).

According to Attorney General Xavier Becerra and several lawyers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego who have teamed up to file a complaint against Uber and Lyft, it is urgent that drivers be able to benefit from employee status. And for Ethan Schulman, a senior judge of the California Court, the case is “very simple”. “For the State, it is obvious that drivers have a central role in the operation of Uber and Lyft (…) whose main activity is the paid transport of people by motorized vehicles”, he summarizes. “It is therefore abnormal that large companies seek to avoid their responsibilities vis-à-vis the law.”

“We will continue to work hard to ensure that Uber and Lyft accept the rules of the game,” added Xavier Becerra, happy with the decision taken by the Court of Justice, but aware that new appeals would be filed to push back the application of any decision.

The line of defense of Uber remains the same: according to the ridesharing giant, “a vast majority of drivers prefer the statute of contractor”. And Uber to brandish the gravity of the economic crisis resulting from the covid-19 pandemic to argue in its direction: “When more than 3 million Californians are deprived of jobs, our leaders should focus on job creation and not precipitate the downfall of an entire industry,” adds a spokesperson quoted by The Verge.

Same position at Lyft, which hopes that Californian voters will rally to the wishes of drivers “who wish to remain independent”. This is obviously contested by many associations and unions of drivers.