Judge stalls Uber, Post­mates chal­lenge to job law

Antelope Valley Press - - NEWS - By DON THOMP­SON

SACRA­MENTO — A fed­eral judge on Mon­day re­fused to ex­empt ride-hail­ing com­pany Uber and on-de­mand meal de­liv­ery ser­vice Post­mates from a broad new Cal­i­for­nia la­bor law while she con­sid­ers their law­suit.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles de­nied the com­pa­nies’ re­quest for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion pro­tect­ing them from the law aimed at giv­ing wage and ben­e­fit pro­tec­tions to people who work as in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors.

With that de­ci­sion, “it is now the re­spon­si­bil­ity of Cal­i­for­nia to en­force the law on be­half of these work­ers,” Demo­cratic As­sem­bly­woman Lorena Gon­za­lez of San Diego, who wrote the law, said in a tweet af­ter the rul­ing.

The com­pa­nies con­tend that the law that took ef­fect

Jan. 1 vi­o­lates fed­eral and state con­sti­tu­tional guar­an­tees of equal pro­tec­tion and due process. It cre­ated the na­tion’s strictest test by which work­ers must be con­sid­ered em­ploy­ees, which could set a prece­dent for other states.

Uber said it is con­sid­er­ing whether to ap­peal. The two com­pa­nies are among those also col­lect­ing sig­na­tures for a mea­sure on the Novem­ber bal­lot that would ex­empt them while giv­ing driv­ers new ben­e­fits like health care and an earn­ings guar­an­tee of 120% of min­i­mum wage.

State law­mak­ers passed the law “us­ing a bi­ased and overtly po­lit­i­cal process that ig­nored the voices of the work­ers most af­fected by the law and granted pref­er­en­tial treatment to an ar­bi­trary group of in­dus­tries,” Uber said in a state­ment.

The law­suit ar­gues that the law ex­empts some in­dus­tries but in­cludes ride-hail and de­liv­ery com­pa­nies with­out a ra­tio­nal ba­sis for dis­tin­guish­ing be­tween them. It says that the law also in­fringes on work­ers’ rights to choose how they make a liv­ing and could void their ex­ist­ing con­tracts.

Gee re­jected all those ar­gu­ments.

The judge agreed that there is ev­i­dence that the law “tar­geted” the com­pa­nies and that some state law­mak­ers “specif­i­cally com­plained about Uber.”

“But such targeting, even if it rises to the level of an­i­mus to­ward gig econ­omy com­pa­nies, does not es­tab­lish an Equal Pro­tec­tion vi­o­la­tion,” Gee wrote, given that the law also “ad­dresses le­git­i­mate con­cerns” about the harm­ful mis­clas­si­fi­ca­tion of work­ers “in many in­dus­tries, not just the gig econ­omy.”

The law is in­tended to ex­tend em­ployee rights to more than a mil­lion Cal­i­for­nia work­ers who lack ben­e­fits like a min­i­mum wage, mileage re­im­burse­ments, paid sick leave, med­i­cal cov­er­age and dis­abil­ity pay for on-the-job in­juries.

An­other judge blocked the law from ap­ply­ing to in­de­pen­dent truck­ers on the grounds that the state law is pre­empted by fed­eral law when it comes to their pro­fes­sion.

A third judge is sched­uled to con­sider next month whether to tem­po­rar­ily block the law from ap­ply­ing to free­lance writ­ers and pho­tog­ra­phers. But Gon­za­lez last week said she in­tends to seek changes to the law as it ap­plies to free­lancers and is con­sid­er­ing changes for mu­si­cians.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Aug. 28, 2019 file photo sup­port­ers of a mea­sure to limit when com­pa­nies can la­bel work­ers as in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors cir­cle the Capi­tol dur­ing a rally in Sacra­mento.

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