Opinion

Uber and Lyft Facing Lawsuits in California Due to AB 5

Written by Michael Palomba

While unemployment in California reaches unprecedented levels, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is targeting major businesses that provide work to hundreds of thousands of Californians.

Last week, the attorney general’s office recently announced that a lawsuit has been filed against Uber and Lyft, alleging that they are in violation of state law by continuing to “misclassify” their workers as independent contractors. 

The state law they are referring to is, of course, Assembly Bill 5, the brainchild of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

Since taking effect at the beginning of the year, it has turned the gig economy—and the lives of individual contractors—upside down. At a time when tens of millions of American’s are unemployed, the last thing the attorney general should be doing is going after businesses struggling to stay afloat.

Uber and Lyft have several million drivers in the United States, and act as a primary source of income for a lot of people. Does now really seem like a good time to target businesses that employ so many people? 

Apparently to Becerra, it does. “The time has come for Uber’s and Lyft’s massive, unlawful employee misclassification scheme to end,” the complaint reads. 

“We believe it’s time for all workers to be treated fairly,” added Becerra in a streamed press conference. “We believe if you play by the rules, everybody gets ahead. We believe innovation doesn’t require that you mistreat workers and we believe that the law is very clear.”

The thing is, everyone is being treated fairly. Independent contractors that work for Uber and Lyft do so by choice, and they have every right to leave and work somewhere else. Additionally, Uber and lyft have the right to offer employment under the classification they see fit. Employment terms should be between the company and the employee—the government does not need to interfere.

This isn’t about following the rules or “fighting for workers.” This is about giving the government more power and helping labor unions, who are huge financial supporters of politicians like Becerra and Gonzalez. AB 5 is a deeply flawed bill that infringes on the constructional rights of workers and businesses through employment discrimination. The California state government, however, seems hell bent on enforcing it authoritatively.