A lawsuit for drivers, lawsuits Uber and Lyft violate antitrust laws

A group of drivers said Tuesday that Uber and Lyft are engaging in anti-competitive practices by setting prices that customers pay and limiting drivers’ ability to choose which trips to accept without penalty.

The drivers, along with advocacy group Rideshare Drivers United, have made a new legal argument in a state case that focuses on a long-running debate over the working status of workers in the concert economy.

For years, Uber and Lyft have argued that their drivers should be considered independent contractors and not employees under labor law, which means they will be responsible for their own costs and usually do not qualify for unemployment insurance. or health benefits. In return, the companies say, drivers can set their own working hours and maintain more independence than they could if they were employees.

But in a lawsuit filed in the San Francisco Supreme Court seeking collective redress, three drivers said Uber and Lyft, while treating them as independent contractors, had not given them real independence and were trying to avoid giving them away. drivers’ benefits and protection of employment status, while placing restrictions on the way they work.

“They make up the rules as they go. They don’t treat me like an independent, they don’t treat me like an employee, “said one of the plaintiffs, Taye Gil, a Lyft and Uber driver in Orange County, California. “You are somewhere in no man’s land,” he added.

In 2020, Uber and Lyft ran a campaign for drivers and voters to support a a measure to vote in California which will conclude the status of independent executor of drivers. The companies said such a measure would help drivers by giving them flexibility, and Uber even began allowing drivers in California to set their own tariffs as a sign of what life would be like if voters approved the voting measure, proposal 22.

Drivers also gained increased visibility of where passengers want to travel before they have to accept the trip. The measure of voting passed before a judge he turned it over.

The following year, the new driver options were canceled. Drivers said they had lost the ability to set their own tariffs and now you must meet the requirements – such as accepting five out of every 10 trips – to see the details of the trips before accepting them.

Drivers said they now lack both the benefits of being an employee and those of being an independent contractor. “I couldn’t see it as fair and reasonable.” Said Gil.

The inability to see the passenger’s destination before accepting the trip is particularly burdensome, drivers said. Sometimes this leads to unexpected late night trips to distant airports or remote destinations that are not cost effective.

In the lawsuit, drivers want to ban Uber and Lyft from “fixing prices for travel sharing services” and “retaining tariffs and destination data from drivers when presenting travel” and be obliged to provide drivers with “transparent” per mile “pay per minute or per trip” instead of using “hidden algorithms” to determine compensation.

Drivers are suing on antitrust grounds, arguing that if they are classified as independent contractors, then Uber and Lyft intervene in the open market by limiting how they work and how much their passengers are charged.

Uber and Lyft are either employers accountable to their employees under labor standards laws, or are bound by laws that prohibit powerful corporations from using their market power to set prices and engage in other behaviors that restrict fair competition. “, It is said in the trial.

Experts said the appeal would be long-term in federal court, where judges typically use a “rule of reason” to weigh antitrust claims against consumer welfare. Federal courts often allow potentially anti-competitive practices that may benefit consumers.

But California courts could be more sympathetic to at least some of the lawsuits, experts said.

“If you apply some of the laws mechanically, it’s very good for the plaintiff in a state court and especially under California law,” said Josh P. Davis, head of the San Francisco Bay Area office at Berger Montague.

“You can get a judge to say, ‘This is not a federal law. This is a state law. And if you apply it in a simple way, reduce all the complexity of the concert economy and look at this thing, we have a law that says you can’t do that, “Mr. Davis said.

Peter Carstensen, an honorary law professor at the University of Wisconsin, said he was skeptical that drivers would agree with claims that Uber and Lyft were illegally setting prices that drivers could charge.

But Mr Carstensen said the state judge could rule in favor of the plaintiffs on other so-called vertical restraints, such as incentives that help drivers commit to one of the platforms, such as guaranteeing them at least $ 1,000 if they commit 70 trips between Monday and Friday. A judge may conclude that these incentives largely exist to reduce competition between Uber and Lyft, he said, as they make drivers less likely to switch platforms and make it harder for a new concert platform to hire drivers.

“You make it extremely difficult for a third party to enter,” he said. said Carstensen.

David Seligman, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, said the lawsuit could benefit from increased scrutiny of anti-competitive practices.

“We believe that politicians, lawyers and courts across the country are paying more attention and looking more closely at the ways in which dominant companies and corporations are abusing their power in the labor market. Said Seligman.

Drivers say canceling options such as setting their own prices has made it harder to make a living as a concert worker, especially in recent months, as gas prices have jumped and as competition between drivers began to return to pre-pandemic levels.

“It’s getting harder to make money,” said another plaintiff, Ben Valdes, a driver in Los Angeles. “Enough is enough. One can take so much.”

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