In November 2020, nearly 60 percent of California voters voted in favor of Proposition 22, granting Uber, UberEats, DoorDash and other similar companies exemption from the state’s law that would have classified drivers as full-time employees. However, the will of the majority clearly doesn’t matter to at least one California judge, who has now ruled Proposition 22 to be “unconstitutional.”
According to the judge, the law “limits the power of a future legislature to define the employment status of the state’s gig workers. Put simply, the will of the state’s voters doesn’t matter if it infringes on the power of state politicians to do as they please.
It’s expected that the affected companies will appeal the ruling, leading to what could be a years-long court battle. The final ruling in the case is sure to impact every single person in the state. Last year, Uber threatened to leave the Golden State if forced to reclassify its gig workers as full-time employees. Some note that the company maintained its operations in the UK even when forced to reclassify its workers, a move that enabled Uber drivers to gain access to benefits that were previously unavailable.
However, even if Uber, DoorDash, and other firms were to stay in the state and work under the new rules, Golden State residents would still lose out. The additional costs would be passed down to consumers or, in the case of DoorDash and UberEats, to restaurants owners who can barely afford to run a restaurant let alone pay extra for delivery services.
What’s more, forcing Uber and like-minded companies to reclassify their workers could also cause problems for the workers themselves, some of whom prefer to remain gig workers rather than full-time employees. While full-time employment does offer great benefits, it also puts an employer in charge of one’s work hours. Drivers would lose a lot of the freedoms they have now, and there are some who would simply have to lose the extra pay from gig work due to being unable or unwilling to drive full-time.
If Uber and other ride-sharing companies simply leave, it would be difficult if not impossible for many people without a car to get around. If the companies stay, the cost of ride-sharing and ordering food would almost certainly rise. Unfortunately, this is perfectly in line with what we’ve come to expect from California politicians — where judges have the ability to do the job of the legislature for them.
Expect more industries to attempt to flee the state in the future.