California Judge rules gig worker initiative as unconstitutional


Shivangi Prakash-

Published on: August 21, 2021 10:30 IST

A California judge ruled on Friday that a 2020 ballot measure exempting ride-share and food delivery drivers from a State Labour Law is unconstitutional because it interfered with the legislature’s ability to set workplace rules.

Proposition 22 is unconstitutional as “It limits the power of a future Legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers’ compensation law”, which makes the entire ballot measure “unenforceable”, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch wrote in the ruling.

Uber, Lyft, Doordash, and Instacart were among the companies lobbying to maintain drivers’ independent contractor status, but with added benefits.

The ballot proposition was intended to establish the status of app-based food delivery and ride-hail drivers as independent contractors rather than workers.

Judge Frank Roesch of Alameda County Superior Court wrote in a finding that the proposition, known as Proposition 22, was unconstitutional.

It limits the power of a future legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers’ compensation law”, making the entire measure unenforceable, the judge wrote.

Years of legal and political battle over a business model that has provided millions of people the ease of ordering food or a ride at the touch of a button culminated in the bill.

“We will file an immediate appeal and are confident the Appellate Court will uphold Prop 22,” a group supporting the measure, the Protect App-Based Drivers and Services Coalition, said in a statement.

In November, voters in the Democratic-leaning State of California overwhelmingly supported the company-sponsored Prop 22, which repealed a State Legislation that would have made gig economy workers employees.

Surveys suggest that the majority of its workers do not want to be employees, according to the corporations, whose business model relies on low-cost flexible labour.

Prop 22 has always been an illegal corporate power grab that not only stole the wages, benefits and rights owed to gig workers but also ended the regulating power of our elected officials,” Gig Workers Rising, which advocates for more benefits, said after the ruling.

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