California seeks to force Uber and Lyft to reclassify drivers as employees in a matter of weeks

California is trying to force Uber and Lyft to reclassify their drivers as employees, in a dramatic escalation of the months-long state war with the concert economy companies.

In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with attorneys for the city of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, sued Uber and Lyft, arguing that their drivers were misclassified as independent contractors when they should be employed under the state law AB5 that was passed. effective January 1.

Now, Becerra plans to file a motion for a preliminary court order that would force transportation companies to reclassify drivers as employees in a matter of weeks, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A Becerra spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Californians who drive on Uber and Lyft lack basic protections for workers,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in May. “Sometimes it takes a pandemic to shake us up and realize what that really means and who suffers the consequences.”

AB5, which was enacted by California Governor Gavin Newsom on September 18, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” to determine if someone is a contractor or employee. Legal experts agree that the law will make it more difficult for gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to classify their drivers and couriers as independent contractors. And companies have argued that the law poses an existential threat to their business models.

Uber and Lyft accused the attorney general and his allies of trying to shut down transportation in the state. They argued that if Becerra succeeds, hundreds of thousands of drivers could be out of a job, costs would rise, and passengers who rely on the Uber and Lyft service would be stranded.

“The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure it stays that way under California law,” said an Uber spokesperson. “When more than 3 million Californians are out of work, our elected leaders should focus on creating jobs, not trying to shut down an entire industry.”

A Lyft spokesman argued that California voters should decide on the issue. The company, along with Uber, Instacart and DoorDash, is funding a $ 90 million effort to pass a voting initiative in November to counter the effects of AB5.

“We believe the courts should let voters decide,” said the Lyft spokesman. “Trying to force drivers to renounce their independence 100 days before the election threatens to leave an additional 1 million people out of work at the worst possible time. It would be incredibly damaging to millions of people and the California economy to grant this motion 100 days before voters decide, and we will oppose this motion. ”

Concert companies were preparing this voting initiative as a contingency plan even before Newsom enacted the bill. The hope was that after contacting lawmakers and labor groups, companies could gain a breather by appealing directly to voters.

The vote measure would override AB5 by classifying transportation drivers and other labor economy workers as independent contractors. According to Ballotpedia, would also enact labor and wage policies for transportation drivers, including a net earnings floor based on 120 percent of the state or municipality minimum wage and 30 cents per mile; a limit to the hours allowed to work during a 24-hour period; health benefits; occupational accident insurance; and accidental death insurance. The ballot measure would also require companies to develop anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies.

“This is another malicious legal action against drivers that underscores exactly why we are seeking the ballot measure,” said Stacey Wells, spokesperson for the Uber-y-Lyft-funded group.

Meanwhile, pro-AB5 driver groups plan to protest outside the San Francisco home, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, to protest the voting initiative and draw attention to the company’s alleged discrimination against non-neighborhood customers. white.