San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has sent subpoenas to Uber and Lyft that asks them to provide information pertaining to how each company classifies its drivers (W2 employees versus 1099 contractors), as well as pay and benefits.
The subpoenas also request a list of drivers who have either started or ended at least one ride in SF between 2015 to the present day and proof that any driver classified as an independent contractor meets the three criteria set forward by a recent California Supreme Court ruling. According to the April 30 ruling, companies must classify workers as employees unless they can prove the person is not under the control of the company, works outside the company’s general scope of business and has an independent business or job of the same nature of the work they do for the company. Still, the ruling does not constitute law, and neither Uber nor Lyft were parties in the case.
“Lyft has a long track record of working collaboratively with policymakers, including the SF City Attorney, on important issues,” a Lyft spokesperson told TechCrunch. “We look forward to helping the City Attorney’s office fully understand Lyft’s business model, including our relationship with drivers.”
It’s worth noting that both Uber and Lyft generally describe their drivers as people who do this type of work as a side hustle, rather than as people who operate their own transportation companies.
“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,” Herrera said in a press release “People go to Microsoft or Salesforce for software. People go to Uber or Lyft for a ride.”
With the subpoenas, Herrera wants to ensure Uber and Lyft are legally classifying their drivers as independent contractors. If not, then Herrera wants Uber and Lyft to offer drivers minimum wage, sick leave, health care and paid parental leave.
“San Francisco’s laws help ensure that employers provide a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” Herrera said. “Our laws also guarantee employees basic humane benefits like sick leave, health care, and paid parental leave. We are not going to turn a blind eye if companies in San Francisco deny workers their pay and benefits. We are not going to tolerate any company shirking its responsibility to pay for benefits and shifting that burden onto taxpayers when drivers without health insurance turn to the emergency room. If your company is valued at $62 billion, you can afford to give your workers health care.”
I’ve reached out to Uber and will update this story if I hear back.