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California Supreme Court Rejects Rideshare Vote Lawsuit

2021-02-05 15:22:02
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The California Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit that sought to overturn a voting measure that makes app-based drivers and delivery drivers independent contractors instead of employees eligible for benefits and job protection.

Judges on Wednesday refused to hear the case brought by drivers and unions opposed to the measure. The case can be brought to a lower court.

The lawsuit alleged that the measure was unconstitutional because it limits the power of the legislature and excludes administrators from qualifying for workers' compensation.

Proposition 22 was passed in November with 58% support and protected companies like Uber and Lyft from a new state labor law that would require app-based services to treat drivers as employees and not independent contractors.

It was the most expensive ballot measure in the history of the state, with Uber, Lyft and other services putting $ 200 million behind attempts to overturn a law targeted at them by labor-friendly Democrats. Unions, which joined drivers in the lawsuit, spent about $ 20 million to challenge the proposal.

When the lawsuit was filed directly with the Supreme Court last month for a prompt review, Mary-Beth Moylan, associate dean of McGeorge Law School in Sacramento, said the first challenge would be to get the court to dismiss the case. to treat.

Moylan said the Supreme Court could just kick the case to a lower court if it felt there was no urgency for it and that there were fact, not just legal, issues that needed to be weighed first.

Many drivers of the services were against the measure because they wanted to maintain the flexibility to set their own schedules.

"We are grateful, but not surprised, that the California Supreme Court has dismissed this creditable lawsuit," Jim Pyatt, a Modesto retiree who drives for Uber, said in a statement from a Proposition 22 group. "We are hopeful this will send a strong signal to special interests to stop undermining the will of voters."

Opponents of the referendum had said the companies were exploiting drivers and that the voting measure would deny them the benefits needed for many types of other workers.

The parties who took the case said they were disappointed and would continue to challenge the measure, but did not say how or if they would re-file the case.

"Make no mistake: we will not be deterred in our struggle to earn a living wage and basic rights," prosecutor Hector Castellanos said in a statement from Proposition 22 opponents. "We will consider every option available to protect California workers from attempts by companies like Uber and Lyft to undermine our democracy and attack our rights to improve their results."

Proposition 22 granted the delivery services an exemption from AB5, a groundbreaking labor law that would have required drivers to receive protections such as minimum wage, overtime, health insurance and expense allowance.

Uber and Lyft had sued AB5, which threatened their business model. They threatened to leave the state if voters rejected the measure.

Under the measure, drivers remain independent contractors exempt from mandates such as sick leave and employee commitment, but are expected to receive "alternative benefits", including a guaranteed minimum wage and health insurance grants if they work an average of 25 hours per week.

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