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Lawsuit alleges Uber coerced drivers into supporting California Prop. 22

Audrey Conklin
·2 min read

A group of Uber drivers has filed a lawsuit accusing the ride-share giant of coercing workers to support California Proposition 22.

California's 2020 election ballots will contain a section for residents to vote on Prop. 22, which would allow Uber, Lyft and other ride-share companies to classify drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

"This is an absurd lawsuit, without merit, filed solely for press attention and without regard for the facts," an Uber spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement. "It can’t distract from the truth: that the vast majority of drivers support Prop 22 and have for months because they know it will improve their lives and protect the way they prefer to work."

The complaint accuses Uber of inundating drivers with notifications and postings in support of Prop. 22.

"Let’s be absolutely clear," David Lowe, a partner at Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe and one of the attorneys for the workers, said in a Thursday statement. "Uber’s threats and constant barrage of Prop 22 propaganda on an app the drivers must use to do their work have one purpose: to coerce the drivers to support Uber’s political battle to strip them of workplace protections."

WHY UBER, LYFT'S FUTURE IN CALIFORNIA COULD BE DECIDED BY VOTERS

Lowe has contributed $5,000 to an anti-Prop. 22 campaign called No on 22.

The lawsuit gives multiple examples of the prompts and messages, including one that "only provides the opportunity for drivers to vote 'YES ON PROP 22' or 'OK,'" which, according to the complaint, "pressures drivers to accept Uber’s position because it does not provide an option to vote no."

ALL U.S. EMPLOYEES WILL RECEIVE A FREE ONE-WAY LYFT RIDE UP TO $75 TO THE POLLS TO VOTE

“Almost every time we log on, we are fed more one-sided information to pressure us into supporting Prop 22," plaintiff Ben Valdez said.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday, the same day a California appeals court ruled against Uber and Lyft, saying they must comply with laws to reclassify drivers. The companies appealed, and have threatened to leave the state altogether if they are forced to reclassify drivers.

The ruling does not go into effect until after Nov. 3 but could limit options for Uber and Lyft should Prop. 22 fail.

Rideshare companies argue that being forced to reclassify now will leave "hundreds of thousands of Californians out of work" and shutdown rideshare services in parts of the state due to increased costs for the companies, according to a Thursday statement from Uber.

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California legislators argue that rideshare drivers are entitled to the benefits that come with employee classification, such as health care, paid sick leave, family leave, workers' compensation, vacation days and more.

In a statewide poll asking California voters whether they would vote for or against Prop. 22, 39% said yes, 36% said no, and 25% said they were undecided, according to The San Fransisco Chronicle.

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