San Francisco Demands Uber and Lyft Prove Their Drivers Are Contractors

June 01, 2018

In the wake of the landmark California Supreme Court decision narrowing the classification of independent contractors, San Francisco’s city attorney issued subpoenas to Uber and Lyft in order to ascertain whether they comply with the court’s new test.

The decision: The California Supreme Court ruled in April that companies must classify their workers as employees unless they can prove the worker works outside the company’s control and direction, does work outside the usual course of the company’s business, and has an independent trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work they perform for the company.  New Jersey and Massachusetts have adopted similar standards.

Subpoena this: The subpoenas seek documentation for each driver Uber and Lyft classifies as independent contractor proving that the worker “in fact” meets the three criteria set forth by the court.

“If your company is valued at $62 billion, you can afford to give your workers health care," according to city attorney Dennis Herrera.  "The argument that these companies have tried to use in the past—that they’re just a technology platform—doesn’t pass the smell test.”

What's ahead for companies:  Other California employers, especially those that rely on independent contractors, can expect to see similar inquiries from state and local authorities and the plaintiffs’ bar regarding the status of their workers.