A California appeals court said on Monday that Proposition 22, the ballot measure passed by state voters in 2020 that classified Uber and Lyft drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, should remain state law.
The decision by three appeals court judges overturned the ruling last year by a California Superior Court judge, who said the proposition was “unenforceable.” It was a victory for companies like Uber, which use gig drivers to transport passengers and deliver food, but do not pay costs that an employer would have to. Those costs can include drivers’ unemployment insurance, health insurance and business expenses.
Still, the appeals court ruling was not the final say. The Service Employees International Union, which, along with several drivers, filed a lawsuit challenging Proposition 22 in early 2021, is expected to appeal the decision to the California Supreme Court, which would then have several months to decide whether to hear the case.
The judges overruled Frank Roesch, the lower court judge whose decision to throw out the proposition in August 2021 set the stage for a protracted, high-stakes legal battle that will determine the job statutes of hundreds of thousands of California drivers.
The opponents of the proposition argued that the ballot measure was unconstitutional under several grounds. It set limits on the State Legislature’s ability to oversee workers’ compensation for gig drivers. It included a rule restricting them from collective bargaining that critics said was unrelated to the rest of the measure, and it set a seven-eighths majority vote of the Legislature as the bar for passing amendments to the measure related to collective bargaining — a requirement that was considered nearly impossible to achieve.
The three court of appeals judges, who heard oral arguments in the case in December in San Francisco, disagreed on two of the three points, but agreed that requiring collective bargaining to occur through an amendment to the proposition “violates separation of powers principles,” and ordered that clause to be severed from the rest of the ballot measure.
“The proper remedy,” the judges wrote, is to sever that section “and allow the rest of Proposition 22 to remain in effect, as voters indicated they wished.”
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.