California drivers sue Uber over in-app messages asking to support ballot measure

In this news, we discuss the California drivers sue Uber over in-app messages asking to support ballot measure.

(Reuters) – UBER.N drivers of California Uber Technologies Inc. on Thursday sued the rideshare company over in-app messages regarding an upcoming ballot measure for workers that drivers say violates a California law protecting their political rights.

The lawsuit says Uber is illegally pressuring drivers through the app to support the company-sponsored voting measure on November 3, known as Proposition 22, through the app.

Uber has dismissed these claims.

“This is an absurd, baseless lawsuit filed only for the attention of the press and without regard to the facts,” Uber said in a statement, adding that the vast majority of its drivers supported the Prop 22 .

Prop 22 would replace California’s AB5 law aimed at forcing Uber, Lyft LYFT.O and other app-based companies to classify workers as employees, entitling them to benefits such as minimum wage, overtime, health and unemployment insurance.

Uber and Lyft say such changes would force them to reduce their California driver base by more than 75% and prevent the majority of its drivers from taking advantage of their current flexibility and earning opportunities.

The two companies also threatened to leave the state if AB5 was applied.

Under Proposal 22, drivers would receive certain benefits, including minimum wage, health care subsidies and accident insurance, but would remain independent contractors.

Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates jointly spent $ 184 million to promote the ballot proposal, and Uber included messages in its pilot app to promote it.

In-app prompts invite drivers to show their support for the ballot measure, including asking them to submit video messages and links to the Yes campaign on Proposition 22 site.

These prompts, combined with Uber’s threat to leave the state or reduce its driver base, lead drivers to believe they could be punished if they don’t follow the company’s line, David said. Lowe, the lawyer who brought the lawsuit.

“This case is not strictly speaking about Prop 22, this case is about Uber trampling the political freedom of its drivers,” said Lowe, who, according to California data, donated $ 5,000 to the No on campaign. Prop 22 sponsored by trade unions.

William Gould, a professor of employment law at Stanford University, said Uber’s driving showed a clear attempt at political interference that violated California law.

Thursday’s lawsuit asks the court to ban Uber’s integrated messaging, a claim that may not go to trial until November 3. He is also asking for fines and a declaration that driving Uber is illegal.

Reporting by Tina Bellon in New York; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

Original © Thomson Reuters

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