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Lyft Driver Files Wage, Break Suit Under California ‘Deputy’ Law

June 5, 2020, 9:37 PM

A Lyft driver in California sued the ridesharing company for multiple wage and breaks violations, using the state’s unique law that deputizes employees to enforce workplace rules.

David Biggs alleges that Lyft willfully misclassified him and other drivers as independent contractors instead of as employees, thus depriving them of certain wages, overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, and reimbursement for business-related expenses.

Biggs, who opted out of Lyft’s arbitration agreement, sued individually, and on behalf of other “aggrieved” employees and California under the Private Attorneys General Act, as well as state labor and unfair competition laws.

The drivers are “clearly employees” under the state’s “ABC test” for worker classification, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in California Superior Court for Santa Clara County.

The legal standard, which was codified by California Assembly Bill 5, requires employers to prove three criteria to classify workers as independent contractors. But Lyft isn’t able to meet that burden for even one of the relevant factors, the lawsuit says.

Lyft exercises significant control over the method and manner of drivers’ work duties, the lawsuit says. Drivers must use Lyft’s mobile application, which tells them which riders to pick up and where to go, and follow certain standards of conduct and terms of service during trips.

The company also sets drivers’ compensation, maintains the right to deduct some or all of a fare if there’s a rider complaint, and uses “bonuses and prime time pricing payments,” to direct where, when, and how they work, the lawsuit claims.

Further, the drivers perform work in the usual course of Lyft’s business, the lawsuit says. Although Lyft argues that it’s a technology platform, the only reason that customers use their mobile app is to obtain transportation services.

Finally, the drivers don’t provide any independent transportation services outside of their work with Lyft, the lawsuit says.

Causes of Action: PAGA; California Labor Code §§201-204, §226.7, §246, §510, §512, §1182, §1194, §1197, §1400, and §§2698-2699; California Wage Order No. 4; and California Business and Professions Code §17200.

Relief: Declaratory judgment, unpaid wages, statutory and waiting time penalties, reimbursement for all business expenses, interest, attorneys’ fees, costs, damages, and any additional relief the court deems proper.

Response: Lyft didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Potter Handy LLP represents the proposed class.

The case is Biggs v. Lyft, Inc., Cal. Super. Ct., No. 20-cv-366831, 6/4/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Dailey at kdailey@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com