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Good News for Gig Workers – In California

Posted by Kevin Sullivan | Aug 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

In employee-friendly California, a Superior Court judge ruled that drivers for Uber and Lyft should be reclassified as employees rather than independent contractors. This is important for workers because employees receive job protections that are not granted to independent contractors. These protections include sick leave, wage minimums, workers compensation eligibility, unemployment eligibility, and other job protections. 

The California attorney general and the city attorneys for the state's largest cities sued Uber and Lyft in May. They wanted a court to order the ride-hailing companies to reclassify their drivers under a new California law known as Assembly Bill 5. 

The judge in the case determined that the state made a strong argument that the drivers are not independent contractors under the new California law. That law requires employers to prove three things to classify workers as independent contractors. One of those requirements is that the employees' duties are outside the employer's regular business. The judge said drivers do not perform work that is “outside the usual course” of the ride-sharing businesses operations. 

Representatives of Lyft and Uber have said the companies will fight the order. The CEO of Uber wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times arguing that most drivers don't want to be employees because they want the flexibility that independent contractors enjoy. In California at least, many drivers have made it known they want to be employees and workers' advocacy groups helped push that agenda. 

This ruling does not provide any relief for drivers or other “gig economy” workers in Georgia. Georgia is much more friendly to employers and neither the attorney general nor any city attorneys are clamoring for Lyft and Uber drivers to be granted employee status. There also is no other effort underway, that we are aware of, to change the status of these drivers.

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