Employee status: Uber drivers lose battle in California

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The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to accept a complaint from Uber drivers who wanted to force California to reject a law approved by referendum in November establishing the independent status of drivers instead of employees.

The plaintiffs hoped to argue that the so-called “Proposition 22” law violated the state constitution by limiting its ability to facilitate the organization of workers among themselves and by excluding drivers from the social benefits to which they should be entitled as employees. employees. The drivers of platforms like Uber and Lyft, its American competitor, are divided between those who want to be considered as employees and those who prefer to keep the current flexibility.

Read also: Status of workers: Uber and Lyft drivers sue California

“We are disappointed,” reacted one of the complainants, Hector Castellanos, in a union press release. “But we are not discouraged in our fight to earn sufficient income to live and basic rights.”

Californians voted in favor of Proposition 22

California passed the “AB5” law in 2019, which entered into force in 2020. It urges companies in the “gig economy” to consider their self-employed workers as employees, and to grant them social benefits. accordingly (unemployment and health insurance, etc.).

But Uber and Lyft and other services operating on the same model refused to comply. They lost the battle in the court of appeal last October, but were granted a stay until the voters’ vote on November 3. However, Californians have decided, and voted 58% in favor of Proposition 22, the compromise proposed by the companies.

Jim Pyatt, a retiree who drives for Uber, said he was grateful for the Supreme Court’s rejection, in an association’s statement in support of the law. “We hope this will send a signal to groups that are trying to go against the will of voters, who have overwhelmingly taken a stand alongside the drivers to endorse Proposition 22.”

Read more: In California, Uber wins first battle to protect its business model

Other options considered

According to this text, Californian drivers retain their self-employed status but benefit from flexible hours and certain compensations: a guaranteed minimum income, a contribution to health insurance and other insurance, depending on the number of hours worked. per week.

A lesser evil for the two leaders of passenger cars with driver (VTC): granting financial advantages remains less expensive than hiring.

“We will consider all possible options to protect Californian workers from attempts by companies like Uber and Lyft to undermine our democracy and attack our rights in order to inflate their profits,” added Hector Castellanos.