(New York) Uber and Lyft defended their wage model in a California appeals court on Tuesday, affirming their opposition to a law that would force them to re-qualify their drivers as employees.
Posted Oct 13, 2020 at 8:06 PM
This hearing is part of a legal deadlock between the two chauffeur-driven car reservation platforms (VTC) and the California authorities, which intend to enforce the “AB5” self-employment status law, which has entered into force. effective in January in this US state.
This intimate text for companies in the "gig economy" to see their self-employed as employees, which Lyft and Uber categorically refuse.
After the two platforms were initially ordered to comply with the law in May, the San Francisco Court of Appeal granted them an extension in late August.
Uber and Lyft had threatened to terminate their service in California, leaving tens of thousands of people out of work.
On Tuesday, Uber's attorney Theodore Boutrous faced three judges, arguing that the AB5 law would force the company to "completely change its business model."
To the attorney, the company is "not a recruiting entity, it is not a transportation company […] It is a multi-dimensional platform that allows passengers and drivers to be connected.
During his video conference presentation, Mr. Boutrous also tried distinguish between Uber and Lyft, claiming that the group he represents guaranteed more independence and freedoms to its drivers and that his situation therefore deserved to be studied separately.
For his part, Rohit Singla, Lyft's lawyer, withdrew , claims the merits of the reminder decided by the Court of Appeal in May.
"The raison d'être of a preliminary notice is to deal with urgent damages until the court resolves the subject matter of the dispute," said Mr. Singla. That the damage in question had not been proven.
Matthew Goldberg, representing the state of California and the cities n Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, replied that the drivers were indeed wronged because they are currently not entitled to many social protections, such as minimum wages, reimbursement of work expenses or family leave.
In addition to their legal battle, Uber and Lyft are betting on a referendum scheduled for November 3, at the same time as the presidential election, to save their model.
They spent tens of millions of dollars organizing the poll and called on citizens to support their "Proposition 22," a compromise that would guarantee flexibility and some social benefits for self-employed drivers.
The outcome of this referendum could force the hand of the appeals court, whose decision is expected in the coming months.