Uber and Lyft have been locked into a fierce battle with California over the way that these ride-hailing services classify their workers. Both companies have fiercely resisted the push to reclassify their drivers from independent contractors to employees, with all of the associated rights and benefits that would entail.
The issue has provoked both legislation and legal battles over the last few years. In the latest blow against Uber and Lyft, a California Court of Appeals has ordered the companies to comply with state labor laws. Uber and Lyft have repeatedly stated that they will leave the state before they comply because doing so would destroy their business models.
This isn’t the end of the battle, however: The companies have 30 days to comply before the order takes effect, which gives them time to file an appeal with the California Supreme Court.
In the meantime, the upcoming election could help Uber and Lyft find a way out of their dilemma. Proposition 22, if approved by voters, would carve out a middle ground between “employee” and “independent contractor” for specific companies.
If Proposition 22 passes, ride-hailing services and food delivery apps like GrubHub and UberEats could continue to classify drivers as independent contractors, while the drivers would be entitled to a limited array of benefits that are normally reserved for employees.
The issues with Uber and Lyft highlight a major problem in a world that has come to rely on “gig” workers: Many of those workers should really be classified as employees. When they aren’t, they’re losing a great deal in terms of benefits, income and security. If you believe that your employer has misclassified you, it may be time to speak to an attorney.