Uber Technologies Inc. can keep using its app to send political messages to its drivers urging them to vote for a ballot measure that would solidify their status as independent contractors, a California judge ruled Wednesday.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Ulmer said the drivers had failed to show they were being harmed by the ride-share company’s in-house campaign and that shutting it down would violate Uber’s right to free speech.
Uber, Lyft Inc.and other gig-economy companies have spent almost $200 million, a record for a ballot measure in the most populous U.S. state, pushing for the passage of Proposition 22, which would largely exempt ride-share drivers from a new state law converting them from independent contractors to employees.
Uber drivers accused the company in a lawsuit last week of illegally coercing their votes on the measure with messages on the Uber app. They said the messages gave the impression that drivers who didn’t support the proposition would be kicked off the platform.
The judge disagreed. He said the drivers’ court filings “point to no Uber driver who has been in any way punished for not cooperating with the Proposition 22 campaign or for advocating against it.”
The case is Valdez v. Uber Technologies., Inc., CGC20587266, California Superior Court (San Francisco).
Read More: Uber to Face Drivers’ Political Pressure Suit in State Court
(Updates with judge’s reasoning in second paragraph)
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