Appeals court says Uber can treat drivers as contractors

  • This week a California court of appeals ruled that gig workers, including drivers on Uber, can continue to be classified as independent contractors.
  • The ruling comes under Proposition 22, which makes specific allowances for gig workers that make use of an app-based platform.
  • Three appeals court judges have now overturned a ruling from 2021 that deemed Proposition 22 unconstitutional.

Over the past few years, Uber drivers have been fighting to be recognised as employees and not classified as independent contractors.

That fight took a hit today as a California court of appeals has ruled that gig workers, which includes drivers on platforms like Uber and Lyft, can continue to be classified as independent contractors under Proposition 22.

For those unfamiliar with that, it was a clause added to September 2019’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), which forced companies to class all gig workers in the US state to be treated as employees. Proposition 22, however, as a ballot measure added to the Bill after the likes of Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and DoorDash spent an estimated $220 million in campaigning for a change that did not apply to app-based gig workers.

As Engadget points out, the current situation stems from a 2021 court ruling that Proposition 22 was deemed unconstitutional. This after the Service Employees International Union and the SEIU California State Council filed a lawsuit.

That decision has now been overruled, with three appeals court judges choosing to do so.

To add insult to injury, and as noted by The New York Times, an additional clause has been ordered by the appeals court making it far harder for gig workers in California to unionise.

“Every California voter should be concerned about corporations’ growing influence in our democracy and their ability to spend millions of dollars to deceive voters and buy themselves laws. The group is now expected to appeal this ruling and to take their fight to the Supreme Court, which could take months to decide whether to hear the case,” added David Huerta, president of SEIU California, in a statement to the publication.

It’s unclear at the time of writing what the next step will be, but unlike the UK and New Zealand, Uber drivers in the US will find it increasingly difficult to be treated like employees. The same goes for those operating in countries like South Africa, which still refuses to fully recognise the rights of gig workers.

[Image – Photo by Viktor Avdeev on Unsplash]


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