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California Is Taking Uber And Lyft To Court Over Treating Their Drivers As Contractors

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A protestor strikes for higher wages at Uber's Redondo Beach offices. (Photo by Emily Dugdale)
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The state of California, along with the cities of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, announced on Tuesday that they're taking Uber and Lyft to court.

Prosecutors allege that by treating their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, the two largest rideshare companies are violating AB5, a new state law governing how workers are classified.

"The companies, we believe and we argue, are shirking their obligations to their workforce," said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

The lawsuit seeks civil penalties as well as restitution for drivers who've been working without overtime pay or minimum wage guarantees. The case was in the works long before the cornavirus hit, but prosecutors say the pandemic has highlighted the lack of protections and benefits for rideshare drivers.

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An Uber spokesperson said the company will contest the lawsuit. A Lyft spokesperson said, "We are looking forward to working with the Attorney General and mayors across the state to bring all the benefits of California’s innovation economy to as many workers as possible."

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