California to step up legal battle with concert companies over worker classification

Xavier Becerra

Xavier Becerra | Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra plans to file a preliminary injunction in his qualifying fight with Uber and Lyft, intensifying a battle with top tech companies, according to a memo sent Wednesday morning from his office.

Becerra and attorneys in major cities filed a lawsuit earlier this year to compel concert tech companies to treat their drivers as employees, not as independent contractors, under a new California operating law that creates a labor standard. state leaning more towards classifying workers as employees who should receive wage and benefit guarantees.


The California Department of Justice did not respond to multiple requests for confirmation, but an attorney for the department notified the parties to the lawsuit of the state’s intention to seek the preliminary injunction, according to an email obtained by POLITICO. Becerra’s office intends to file the preliminary injunction request on Thursday and is seeking a hearing date for July 23.

Application-based job companies are fighting the new law, CA AB5 (19R), arguing that it would decimate their business models and deprive workers of flexible earnings. The companies have argued that the law does not apply to their workers, prompting Becerra’s lawsuit.

If granted, a preliminary court order could compel concert companies to comply with the law.

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart have pledged more than $ 110 million to pass a voting initiative that would allow their workers to remain independent contractors.

Companies are looking at the electorate after they were unable to influence the Legislature, and the courts are putting increasing pressure. San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin challenged DoorDash in court last week for misclassifying her delivery drivers, another volley in a growing barrage of legal challenges for concert companies in California.

Stacey Wells, a spokesperson for the industry’s voting initiative, criticized Becerra’s latest move, characterizing it as “another malicious legal action against drivers that underscores exactly why we are seeking the ballot measure.”

“It is disconcerting that anyone seeks to end this critical work, threatening 900,000 jobs, especially now,” he said in a statement.

Similarly, Uber anticipated its likely message to voters in a statement attacking Becerra’s actions. “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,” the company said.