Drivers’ Lawsuit Claims Uber and Lyft Violate Antitrust Laws

A group of drivers claimed Tuesday that Uber and Lift are involved in anti-competitive practices by setting prices paid by customers and limiting a driver’s ability to choose which rides they accept without penalty.

Drivers backed by advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United made a novel legal argument in a state lawsuit that targeted a long-running debate about the employment status of gig economy workers.

For years, Uber and Lift have argued that their drivers are considered independent contractors rather than employees under labor law, meaning they will be responsible for their own costs and are generally not eligible for unemployment insurance or health benefits. The companies, in turn, argued that drivers could set their own hours and maintain greater independence than if they were employees.

But in their complaint, which was filed in San Francisco Superior Court and seeking class-action status, the three drivers claim that Uber and Lift, when treating them as independent contractors, did not give them real freedom and avoid giving drivers. Trying Employment status benefits and protection when they set restrictions on the way they work.

“They make rules that go hand in hand. They are not treating me independently, they are not treating me like an employee, “said Taze Gil, a lift and Uber driver in Orange County, Calif. “You’re in some man’s land somewhere,” he added.

In 2020, Uber and Lift launched a campaign to support voting criteria for drivers and voters in California that would lock the status of independent driver contractors. The companies said the move would help give drivers flexibility, and Uber also began allowing drivers in California to set their own rates when the state passed a law requiring companies to treat contract workers as employees. Drivers thought the new flexibility was an indication of what life would be like if voters approved the voting criteria, Proposition 22.

Drivers were given more visibility about where passengers had to accept the ride before they wanted to travel. The ballot was passed before a judge could overturn it.

The following year, new options for drivers returned. Drivers said they have lost the ability to determine their own fares and must now meet requirements such as accepting five out of 10 rides – to see details about trips before accepting them.

Drivers said they now lack the benefits of both being an employee and being an independent contractor. “I did not see this as fair and just,” he said. Said Gill.

The ability to see a passenger’s destination before accepting a ride is particularly difficult, drivers said. This can sometimes lead to unexpected late-night trips to distant airports or places outside which are not cost effective.

“Millions of people choose to monetize platforms like Uber because it offers unique freedom and flexibility,” said Noah Edwardsen, of the platforms Uber, in a statement. “This complaint misinterprets both the facts and the applicable law and we intend to defend ourselves accordingly.”

Lift spokeswoman Jodi Seth said in a statement: “Voters in California overwhelmingly support a voting measure that drivers want and can’t get through traditional employment: flexibility and independence.” She added, “The lift platform provides valuable opportunities for drivers in California and across the country to get paid whenever and however they want.”

In the lawsuit, drivers are asked to provide Uber and Lift with “pricing for ride-share services” and “withholding fare and destination data from drivers when presenting with rides” and giving drivers “transparency per mile”. Instead of using “hidden algorithms” to determine returns, pay per-minute or per-trip.

Drivers claim on the grounds of distrust, arguing that if they are classified as independent contractors, Uber and Lift are interfering in the open market by restricting how they operate and how much they charge their passengers.

“Uber and Lift are either responsible employers for their employees under the Labor Standards Act, or they are bound by laws that prohibit powerful corporations from using their market power to set prices and engage in other behaviors that regulate fair competition.” Says the lawsuit.

Experts said the complaint would be a lengthy shot in federal court, where judges typically use the “rule of reason” to weigh no-confidence claims against consumer welfare. Federal courts often allow potentially competitive practices that arguably benefit consumers.

For example, Uber and Lift may argue that visible restrictions on competition help reduce waiting times for customers by ensuring an adequate supply of drivers. The lawsuit argues that allowing drivers to set their own prices could lower fares for customers, as Uber and Lift hold a significant share of fares, and what customers pay usually has little to do with drivers’ earnings.

Whatever the case, California courts may be more sympathetic to at least some of the claims in the complaint, experts said.

“If you enforce certain laws mechanically, it’s very convenient for a plaintiff in a state court, and especially under California law,” said Josh P., head of the Berger Montag firm’s San Francisco Bay Area office. Davis said.

“You can find a judge who says: ‘This is not federal law. This is state law. And if you apply it directly, remove all the complexities of the gig economy and look at this thing, we have a law that says You can’t do that, “said Mr. Davis.

Peter Carsten, a professor of emeritus law at the University of Wisconsin, said he doubted drivers would get traction with their claims that Uber and Lift were illegally charging drivers a price.

But Mr. Karstensen said the state judge could rule in favor of the plaintiff on other so-called vertical restraints, such as incentives that help drivers build from one platform to another, for example, a guarantee of at least $ 1,000 if they complete 70 rides by Monday. Giving. And Friday. One judge could conclude that these incentives exist largely to reduce competition between Uber and Lift, he said, as they make it less likely for drivers to switch platforms and make it harder to hire drivers for new gig platforms.

Mr. Said Carsten.

Plaintiffs’ attorney, David Seligman, said the lawsuit could benefit from increased scrutiny of competing practices.

Mr. Said Seligman.

Drivers say the rollback of options such as setting their own prices has made it more difficult to earn a living as a gig worker, especially in recent months as gas prices have soared and competition among drivers has begun to return to pre-epidemic levels.

“Making money is becoming increasingly difficult,” said Ben Valdez, a driver in Los Angeles. “It’s too much now. That’s all one person can take.”

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.