A labor commissioner from California filed a lawsuit against Uber and Lyft for misclassifying drivers as independent contractors instead of identifying them as employees under Assembly Bill 5 (AB-5).
California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office has filed lawsuits against Uber and Lyft for allegedly committing wage theft on its drivers, an accusation backed by thousands of drivers. The two ride-hailing apps are in legal turmoil for classifying their drivers as independent contractors when they should have been identified as employees under AB-5, a law made effective at the beginning of the year. California Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower said in a statement that drivers under Lyft and Uber are left without protections, access to reimbursement of expenses, sick leave, overtime, and minimum wages. “The suits also seek the recovery of unpaid wages, penalties, and interest as well as civil penalties and any costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred by the Labor Commissioner’s Office,” added the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
Under Assembly Bill 5, companies are required to provide proof that their workers are outside company control and capable of working outside the common course of their business for them to classify their employees as independent contractors.
The two companies known for thriving in the ride-hailing business have been sued by other city attorneys in the past, especially when the AB-5 was implemented yet none of the companies have reclassified their drivers yet.
Uber responded via CNN through its spokesperson, Davis White, by claiming most of the drivers in California seek to work independently and that Uber has already made major modifications to its app to “ensure that remains the case under state law. When 3 million Californians are without a job, our leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry."
As for Lyft, it is accusing the state labor agency of botching thousands of claims that won’t likely be processed, for which they have turned to send the two companies in a “legal abyss, where they know it will take years to resolve them.”
In this pandemic, both drivers and the companies are on edge with the growing number of cases in the US. In the state of New York, many Uber drivers are experiencing the worst by not earning any income or any form of compensation for which Uber reportedly closed the accounts of its employees who asked for sick pay.