A California law that ensures contract workers are treated as independent contractors, while providing them with limited benefits, is unconstitutional and unenforceable, a judge in the California Superior Court said. issued the ruling on Friday night.
The decision is not likely to have an immediate effect on the new law and will certainly face appeals from Uber and other so-called gig economy companies. It opens up the debate over whether ride-hailing and delivery drivers are employees deserving of full benefits or independent contractors responsible for the business and its own interests. surname.
Last year’s Proposition 22, a voting initiative backed by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and other contract economy firms, created a third classification for workers, granted to workers. contract limited benefits while preventing them from being seen as employees of the tech giants. The initiative passed in November with more than 58 percent of the vote.
But drivers and Service Employees International Union have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. The group argues that Prop 22 is unconstitutional because it limits the ability of the State Legislature to allow workers to organize and access workers’ compensation.
The law also requires a seven-eighth majority for the Legislature to pass any amendments to Prop 22, a considered all but unattainable supermajority.
Judge Frank Roesch said in his ruling that Proposition 22 violated the California Constitution because it restricted the Legislature from making contract workers eligible for workers’ compensation.
“The entirety of Proposition 22 is unenforceable,” he wrote, creating new legal upheaval in the long-running battle over contract workers’ employment rights.
“I think the judge made a very good decision when he found that Proposition 22 was unconstitutional because it had some unusual provisions in it,” said Veena Dubal, a professor at the Hastings College of Law in the United States. University of California, who studies the gig economy and applies. a summary in the case of the driver’s location support. “It is written in a comprehensive way to prevent workers from accessing any rights the Legislature has decided upon.”
Scott Kronland, an attorney for drivers, praised Judge Roesch’s decision. “Our view is that he is absolutely right and his judgment will be upheld on appeal,” Mr Kronland said.
But the contract economy firms argued that the judge was wrong to “ignore centuries-old case precedent asking the court to protect voters’ initiative rights,” said Geoff Vetter, a spokesman. of the Application-Based Services & Driver Protection Alliance. a group representing the performing platforms.
An Uber spokesperson said the ruling ignored the majority of California voters who supported Proposition 22. “We will appeal and we hope to win,” the spokesman, Noah Edwardsen, said. “Meanwhile, Proposition 22 remains in effect, including all of the protections and benefits it offers to independent workers across the state.”
Uber and other gig economy companies are pursuing similar legislation in Massachusetts. This month, a coalition of companies submitted a ballot proposal that could allow voters in the state to decide next year whether contract workers should be considered independent contractors.