Uber, Lyft Granted Emergency Injunction By California Court

Uber and Lyft will continue operating as normal in California after both ride-hailing firms were granted an emergency injunction by a court on Thursday.

Last week in what would likely be a significant development for workers in the gig economy, Judge Ethan Schulman of San Francisco Superior Court ruled that drivers for Uber and Lyft were employees, and not freelancers or contractors.

Almost immediately after that ruling, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi warned that Uber’s service in California would be shut down temporarily.

This California shutdown threat was echoed by Lyft co-founder and President John Zimmer in an earnings call.

Emergency injunction

Both companies had applied for an emergency injunction against the ruling, and now the California First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco on Thursday avoided a shutdown of the ride-hailing services, after it granted their request.

This injunction means that drivers can continue working as independent contractors while the appeals court considers the question of driver status, Reuters reported.

The court has scheduled arguments in the case for 13 October, but is unlikely to issue a final ruling before a 3 November ballot – a measure that puts the decision in the hands of California voters, Reuters reported.

Some Uber and Lyft drivers are supporting the ballot measure and others are opposing it.

“If people want to be employed, they can look for a different job,” Ramon, a driver supporting the measure known as Proposition 22 who declined to give his full name, was quoted as saying.

But Uber and Lyft are facing determined opposition however by Californian officials.

Despite the reprieve, the office of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra reportedly said it remained confident in its case and would continue its fight to defend the rights of workers.

“California is America’s economic engine because innovation and worker rights go hand in hand. Any company that suggests otherwise is peddling a false choice,” Becerra reportedly said.

Gig economy

Uber and Lyft insist the vast majority of their drivers do not want to be employees, with some 80 percent reportedly working less than 20 hours per week.

The companies say their flexible on-demand business model is not compatible with traditional employment law and they are seeking what they call a “third way” between employment and contractor status.

Under the “third way” proposal outlined in the ballot measure, drivers would receive a health care stipend, a minimum wage, expense reimbursements as well as medical and disability coverage for injuries on the job.

It is now up to California voters to decide on the issue.

Demand for ride-hailing services has taken a hit during the Coronavirus pandemic, but that did not stop Uber earlier this month  expanding its ride-hailing in the UK with the purchase of Autocab for an undisclosed amount.

Quiz: Know all about tech transport?

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

Recent Posts

Signal Shows Data Collection Adverts Facebook Rejected

Signal has had user-targetted adverts on Instagram blocked, as messaging service attempts to highlight Facebook…

4 hours ago

Oversight Board Upholds Trump’s Facebook Suspension

Bad news for Donald. Facebook's 'Supreme Court' upholds suspension of Donald Trump account, but asks…

6 hours ago

US Presses TSMC For More Chips For Car Makers

Global silicon shortage continues, as US Commerce Department presses Taiwanese chipmakers to ease the supply…

7 hours ago

Starlink Signs Up 500,000 Pre-Orders For Satellite Internet

Elon Musk space venture SpaceX has already signed 500,000 customers on pre-order for its Starlink…

9 hours ago

Apple Vs Epic Games Court Battle Continues

Second day of courtroom showdown in the US reveals Epic Games management would have accepted…

11 hours ago

Trump Launches ‘Communications’ Website

Banned from social media for instigating US Capitol riot, Trump launches 'straight from the desk'…

12 hours ago