The California Supreme Court rejected a major labor union and several ride-hailing drivers attempt to overturn a newly passed ballot measure classifying gig workers as independent contractors in California.
The groups filed suit in the Supreme Court, alleging Proposition 22 violated the state constitution and limits the power of state legislators to implement certain worker protections they are authorized to grant.
The Service Employees International Union and group of ride-hailing drivers, asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 22, which classified gig driver’s status as independent contractors after more than 58 percent of voters supported it in November.
They argued the measure limits state legislators’ ability to implement a system of workers’ compensation in defiance of their constitutional authority to do so. It also argues that the proposition unconstitutionally defines what comprises an amendment to the measure, as well as violating a rule limiting ballot measures to a single subject to prevent voter confusion.
The Protect App-Based Drivers and Services coalition, which represents gig companies such as Uber, Lyft and Doordash, criticized the lawsuit in a statement attributed to Uber driver Jim Pyatt, an activist who has worked in favor of Prop 22.
The groups that filed the suit, which also include SEIU California State Council, took particular issue with the measure’s inclusion of a provision requiring a seven-eighths legislative supermajority to amend and even define what constitutes an amendment.
They said they were suing in the state Supreme Court rather than a lower court because the issues were of broad public importance and required a speedy resolution to minimize harm to gig workers.
However the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and did not write a formal opinion. The docket entry simply stated “The petition for writ of mandate is denied without prejudice to refiling in an appropriate court.”
Thus, their arguments were not heard on the merits. They were redirected to the jurisdiction of lower courts. However, as they pointed out, this would now require years of costly litigation, first in lower courts, then intermediate appellate courts, and finally back to the Supreme Court.
It would not be unusual for this to be a ten year journey.