SAN FRANCISCO—On August 10, San Francisco judge Ethan Schulman issued a preliminary injunction that ordered Uber and Lyft to classify drivers in California as employees, which were considered gig workers prior to this decision.
The status of workers for Uber and Lyft has caused some debate over the past few months, as earlier this year protesters gathered outside of Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco, demanding to be recognized as employees. On May 5, the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco sued Uber and Lyft, accusing them of violating California’s new law, Assembly Bill 5, which extends employee classification status to gig workers.
The preliminary injunction will go into effect in 10 days, so the companies have time to appeal the judge’s decision if they want. If no appeal is made, or if Uber and Lyft lose the case after an appeal, then the two companies will be forced to reclassify their workers, which means they will need to offer pay for overtime, as well as health care and other benefits. Both Uber and Lyft have released statements indicating that they will appeal the injunction.
In the affidavit, Judge Schulman elaborated on his decision, stating:
“It bears emphasis that these harms are not mere abstractions; they represent real harms to real working people. To state the obvious, drivers are central, not tangential, to Uber and Lyft’s entire ride-hailing business.”