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California Sues Uber, Lyft Alleging Employee Misclassification

California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra and a coalition of city attorneys including that of Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, have filed a lawsuit against ride-hailing service providers Uber and Lyft claiming that the companies wrongfully classified their drivers as independent contractors in violation of a state law.

The law, Assembly Bill 5, requires companies to treat their workers as employees instead of contractors if they control how workers perform tasks or if the work is a routine part of a company's business.

According to the lawsuit, Uber's and Lyft's misclassification of drivers deprives workers of critical workplace protections such as the right to minimum wage and overtime, and access to paid sick leave, disability insurance, and unemployment insurance.

In the lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of San Francisco the coalition seeks restitution for workers, a permanent halt to the unlawful misclassification of drivers, and civil penalties that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Californians who drive for Uber and Lyft lack basic worker protections — from paid sick leave to the right to overtime pay. Uber and Lyft claim their drivers aren't engaged in the companies' core mission and cannot qualify for benefits," said Attorney General Becerra. "Sometimes it takes a pandemic to shake us into realizing what that really means and who suffers the consequences. Uber and Lyft drivers who contract the coronavirus or lose their job quickly realize what they're missing."

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