Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. won’t get a chance to send California claims that rideshare companies misclassified workers to arbitration, as the California Supreme Court denied their request Wednesday to review an appeals decision against them.
The justices, during their weekly meeting, denied Lyft and Uber’s petitions for a high court review of a lower court ruling on Sept.
San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, and the California Labor Commissioner sued the companies in May 2020, saying they violated the state’s unfair competition law, Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200, by falsely classifying their California drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, depriving them of the wages and benefits associated with employee status.
The state, which seeks injunctive relief, civil penalties, and restitution for the injured public, is not a party to arbitration agreements between ride-sharing companies and drivers and delivery people. California is also seeking injunctive relief under Assembly Bill 5, which allows such relief to prevent the misclassification of employees as independent contractors.
The court, without comment, denied review. Associate Justice Kelli Evans was recused and did not participate.
The San Francisco city attorney’s office said in a statement that it was “pleased that the California Supreme Court denied review of Uber and Lyft’s attempt to delay and evade this important public law enforcement action,” leaving room for a well-reasoned decision by the Court of Appeals in this driver’s misclassification suit.
“We look forward to finally getting our day in court to hold Uber and Lyft accountable for denying their drivers basic workplace protections and illegally shifting that burden onto taxpayers.”
Representatives for Lyft and Uber did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
In May, the state supreme court denied a request by city attorneys and Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower to lift the trial court’s stay on their lawsuits.
The San Francisco Superior Court previously refused to order arbitration, prompting an appeals decision that affirmed that decision. The trial court stated that “it is undisputed that neither the People nor the Commissioner were parties to any arbitration agreement with the defendants’ drivers” and that they “acted as public prosecutors when they pursued the litigation” to enforce unfair competition and labor laws. Code.
The rideshare companies seeking review argued that the court should review the case to resolve whether California law undermines the Federal Arbitration Act by delegating state agencies to sue on behalf of the parties to the agreements. arbitration.
California argued against review, saying “like the Court of Appeal here, state and federal courts—including the U.S. Supreme Court—have repeatedly rejected attempts to block enforcement efforts by public prosecutors based on private party agreements.”
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP represented Uber. Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP and Kekker, Van Nest & Peters LLP are representing Lyft. The California Attorney General’s office represents the state. City attorneys in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego represent the cities.
The case is In re Uber Wage and Hour Cases, Cal., No. S282614, review denied 1/17/24.