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State Supreme Court decides against rideshare drivers lawsuit


Following the California Supreme Court’s decision to deny without prejudice rideshare drivers’ lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 22, plaintiff Hector Castellanos released the following

statement. Earlier this month, a group of rideshare drivers, consumers, SEIU, and SEIU California filed a lawsuit alleging Proposition 22 unconstitutionally limits the power of elected officials to govern and should be struck down.

“We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear our case, but make no mistake: we are not deterred in our fight to win a livable wage and basic rights. We will consider every option available to protect California workers from attempts by companies like Uber and Lyft to subvert our democracy and attack our rights in order to improve their bottom lines.

“I joined together with my fellow rideshare drivers to file an urgent challenge against Prop 22 at the Supreme Court because we know that in a democracy, corporations shouldn’t get to write our laws. Prop 22 is an unconstitutional attack on the ability of the California legislature to pass any laws to protect gig workers like me, even in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”

California app-based drivers, rideshare consumers and labor unions filed a lawsuit alleging Proposition 22 violates the state’s constitution and should be struck down.

The suit, filed in California Supreme Court, alleged Prop 22 unconstitutionally limits the power of elected officials to govern, including by stripping the legislature’s ability to grant workers the right to organize for improvements to their pay and working conditions as well as by illegally excluding them from the state workers’ compensation program. The suit also asserted Prop 22 violates a provision in the state constitution requiring ballot initiatives address only a single subject.

Plaintiffs include rideshare drivers Hector Castellanos, Saori Okawa, Michael Robinson; Joseph Delgado, a user of app-based rideshare services; and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and SEIU California State Council.

“Every day, rideshare drivers like me struggle to make ends meet because companies like Uber and Lyft prioritize corporate profits over our wellbeing,” said Okawa. “With Prop 22, they’re not just ignoring our health and safety — they’re discarding our state’s constitution.

I’m joining this lawsuit because I know it’s up to the people we elect to make our laws, not wealthy  executives who profit from our labor.

I’m confident the court will see Prop 22 for the corporate power grab that it is, and that Prop 22 will live in infamy along with unconstitutional ballot measures like Prop 8 and Prop 187.”

Prop 187 and Prop 8 were both ultimately ruled unconstitutional. Prop 22, which took effect last month, defines “App-Based Drivers” as independent contractors rather than as employees, and thereby withdraws basic employment protections from them, including workers’ compensation coverage. It also precludes the legislature from passing various types of legislation not directly related to the measure’s classification of App-Based Drivers as independent contractors.

The measure has left rideshare drivers in a precarious position as California experiences a dangerous spike in COVID-19 infections. Prop 22 stripped California gig workers of basic rights like overtime pay, paid family leave, sick days, unemployment insurance and a voice on the job through a union. Instead, Prop 22 places the power to protect drivers in the hands of rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft — the very same companies who wrote the law and spent over $200 million to pass it last November.

“Although titled the “Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Act,” Proposition 22 actually withdraws minimum employment protections from hundreds of thousands of California workers,” the suit alleged. “That result would be profoundly harmful to many workers, but not necessarily unconstitutional, if the measure had not overreached in several significant ways.”

The lawsuit alleged Proposition 22, as written by Uber and Lyft, denies drivers rights under the law in California and makes it nearly impossible for lawmakers to fix these problems.