California’s gig worker law, which allows companies like Uber and Lyft to treat workers as independent contractors rather than employees, has been ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable by a judge. Voters approved the bill as an election initiative Proposition 22 in November, with companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash spending more than $ 200 million to campaign for the measure. Unions, including the Service Employees International Union, opposed this.
California Superior Court Justice Frank Roesch ruled Friday that the law “unlawfully restricts a future legislature’s power to define app-based drivers as employees subject to the Employee Compensation Act,” adding that “the entirety of Proposition 22 is not enforceable ”. He also ruled that it was unconstitutional for the law to require seven-eighths approval for future amendments to pass the legislature.
In January, a group of Uber and Lyft drivers, along with the SEIU, filed a lawsuit asking for the measure to be lifted. The law exempts gig employers from providing benefits and protection to workers, but requires them to offer health benefits and a minimum hourly wage.
“It only seems to protect the economic interests of the network companies …”
Roesch opposed the part of the law that requires all future California collective bargaining laws for gig workers to comply with Prop 22 law. “It only seems to protect the network companies’ economic interests in having a shared, non-unionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation,” he wrote.
Geoff Vetter, a spokesman for the Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition (PADS), which includes Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart, said in a statement emailed to The Verge that they want to appeal. The judge “made a grave mistake by ignoring a century of jurisprudence that the courts must protect the voters’ right of initiative,” Vetter wrote, noting that the majority of California voters approved the measure. “All provisions of Prop 22 remain in effect until the appeal process is completed.”