In March 2020, in the midst of a public health crisis, Lyft Drivers John Rogers, Amir Ebadat, and Hany Farag, on behalf of themselves and other Lyft drivers, sought emergency reclassification as employees under California’s A.B. 5 in order to access state-mandated paid sick leave and protect both their and the public’s health during this pandemic.
The National Employment Law Project, Partnership for Working Families, Legal Aid at Work, Bet Tzedek, the Center for Workers’ Rights, Centro Legal de la Raza, and Public Rights Project filed an amicus brief on July 30 in support of the Lyft Drivers’ appeal to the Ninth Circuit.
Amici’s brief describes how Lyft (and other rideshare) drivers’ working conditions put them at high risk of COVID-19 infection; how Lyft has utterly failed to protect drivers; how Lyft’s misclassification has denied its drivers access to paid sick days, endangering their health and the public’s health; and other harms of Lyft’s misclassification to law-abiding employers and the public.
Amici also urge the Ninth Circuit to adopt the First Circuit’s recent Waithaka standard for determining whether workers fall within the Federal Arbitration Act’s Section 1 exemption. For years, Lyft has openly defied California law by misclassifying employees, wielding its forced arbitration requirements (which include class-action waivers) as a shield and using the Federal Arbitration Act to evade accountability, even in the wake of A.B. 5. But under the First Circuit’s standard, amici argue that Lyft drivers are engaged in interstate commerce, as airport transportation is a significant portion of Lyft drivers’ work. Because the FAA does not apply to Lyft’s arbitration requirements, amici argue the drivers’ cannot be compelled to arbitrate under California law—and that Lyft may therefore be held accountable for its lawbreaking in court.