Uber and Lyft drivers are very likely employees, California judge rules

By Cyrus Farivar at NBC News

August 10, 2020

OAKLAND, Calif. — Uber and Lyft say that unless a state appeals court decides to intervene Thursday, they will shut down their passenger services across California for at least several months if not more than a year.

The companies say it is practically impossible for them to comply with a San Francisco judge's order last week that said they had violated a new state law known as AB5 and had misclassified hundreds of thousands of their drivers as contractors rather than employees.

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman found an "overwhelming likelihood" that Uber and Lyft had misclassified their drivers. He issued a preliminary injunction ordering the companies to halt the practice, which saves the companies millions of dollars a year because they do not have to pay into benefits programs, including unemployment insurance and workers' compensation.

The mayors of San Jose and San Diego issued a statement Wednesday asking the 1st District Court of Appeal to put the injunction on hold because a shutdown would "deepen economic pain felt in our communities during this historic pandemic and recession."

Schulman had already put enforcement of the ruling on hold for 10 days pending appeal, which ends Thursday at 11:59 p.m. It remains unknown when or whether the appeals court would rule before the clock expires.

Uber did not respond to emailed questions Wednesday afternoon. Lyft declined to comment for attribution.

Read more at the NBC News

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