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California's Labor Commission Sues Uber, Lyft Alleging Wage Theft

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office announced
Thursday that it has filed separate lawsuits against ride hailing services Uber
and Lyft, accusing the companies of wage theft by misclassifying employees as independent
contractors.

The suits, both filed in Alameda County Superior Court,
claim that classifying drivers as independent contractors violates state labor
laws and denies drivers basic workplace protections such as paid sick leave, unemployment
insurance, minimum wages and overtime pay.

Neither company responded to requests for comment Thursday evening.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued Uber and
Lyft in San Francisco Superior Court in May, also accusing them of illegally classifying
their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

Since January, under Assembly Bill 5, California law has
required that companies determine whether their workers are employees or
independent contractors based on a three-part assessment: whether the workers
are directed by the company, whether their work is the same as what the company
normally does and whether it is the worker’s usual work.

Uber, Lyft and other “gig economy” companies have
opposed the law, saying their workers prefer having the freedom to work flexible
hours without the commitments required of employees.

The labor commissioner’s lawsuit seeks to recover wages for
the more than 100,000 estimated people who drive for the two companies.

“The Uber and Lyft business model rests on the misclassification
of drivers as independent contractors,” California Labor Commissioner
Lilia Garcia-Brower said
in a statement. “This leaves workers without protections such as paid sick
leave and reimbursement of drivers’ expenses, as well as overtime and minimum
wages.”

The Labor Commissioner’s Office said it has received claims
from 5,000 drivers for owed wages.


Source: NBC Bay Area

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