In general, a rideshare is a type of transportation service that is provided by a company-specific website or mobile app. Similar to taxis, rideshare services enable users to arrange trips at a moment’s notice.
Unlike taxis, however, the vehicle used to transport a rideshare passenger is typically owned by a private driver. Rideshare passengers must also use entity-specific websites or mobile apps to schedule a trip. In other words, rideshare vehicles cannot be hailed like a taxi.
For instance, people who live in cities where they do not have to own a car may use a rideshare service to run errands like grocery shopping.
Another popular destination for rideshare users is the airport. This way a rideshare user can simply be dropped off at the assigned airport terminal on their ticket and will not have to pay for parking through the duration of their trip. A rideshare user will be required to pay the company or driver for each individual trip though.
Rideshare services have only become more widespread since the first one appeared circa 2009. While users can now choose from a number of rideshare services, the most well-known are those of Uber and Lyft. Some other examples of rideshare services include Via, Curb, Gett, Wingz, and Arro.
Most, if not all, of these rideshare service companies require users to download their respective mobile apps. The rideshare user must then create a personal account to which they must link or input a form of payment, such as a credit card. The rideshare user can then use the app to notify drivers in the area to pick them up and drop them off at a certain location.
Depending on the rideshare service that is being used or on the type of trip that a user selects within a rideshare program, many rideshare services will now accommodate multiple passengers. Some rideshare services may even allow users to catch a ride as a passenger in a “carpool” full of strangers.
Although each rideshare app has its own unique user features and terminology, the one factor that remains common among all of these companies is that they are governed by state law. In addition, there is no uniform law that covers all rideshare services. A rideshare service that is classified as a common carrier in one state, may not qualify as one in another state.
Thus, users and drivers should be mindful of the regulations that apply to rideshare companies in their state. To learn more about the legal rights and remedies that may be available to you as a user or driver of a rideshare service in your state, it is generally recommended that you consult with a California attorney in your area for further advice that is tailored to your specific legal matter.
What are California Rideshare Employment Laws? What Do They Cover?
In November of 2020, voters in California voted to pass a ballot initiative known as Proposition 22 (“Prop 22”). Specifically, Prop 22 exempts rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft from having to treat their rideshare drivers as employees. Instead, rideshare companies in California can classify rideshare drivers as a hybrid between uber drivers employees and uber drivers independent contractors.
Under these new Uber driver rules, rideshare drivers in California will only be granted the benefits and rights that rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft decide to give them. For example, rideshare drivers will not be allowed to claim any of the employee benefits that are mandated by California state labor laws, such as sick days or health insurance. That is unless a rideshare driver’s company offers them these types of employee benefits in their contract.
Prop 22 did set a base hourly rate for rideshare drivers that is higher than the state’s minimum wage, however, to offset some financial loss. According to the California Uber and Lyft law, the new standard rate for rideshare drivers is fixed at a minimum of roughly $16.80 per hour. Whether this amount will remain the hourly rate for Uber drivers going forward, will depend on the appeal.
A few months after Prop 22 was passed, a judge declared the law to be unconstitutional in late August of 2021. The rideshare companies immediately appealed the decision, but it could take several months or possibly longer until the appeals process ends. Thus, California rideshare employment laws are currently in limbo. Therefore, a rideshare driver should consult a California attorney in their area for further advice on this issue.
What are Some Common Violations of Rideshare Laws in California?
There are numerous ways that a rideshare company or a rideshare driver can violate California rideshare laws. Depending on the legal issues in a specific matter, these violations can extend to cover many different areas of the law, such as taxes, torts, and labor laws. Some common ways that violations of California rideshare laws can occur may include the following:
- When a rideshare company fails to pay a rideshare driver the new hourly rate imposed by California state law;
- If a rideshare company engages in employment discrimination when hiring, firing, or promoting rideshare drivers;
- When a rideshare company or driver fails to pay California state taxes;
- If a rideshare company’s policies conflict with California labor laws; and/or
- When a rideshare company fails to pay out a rideshare driver’s tips.
In addition, rideshare drivers and rideshare companies can be held liable by rideshare users and/or passengers who are injured in an accident during the course of their trip.
What Other Uber/Lyft Independent Contractor Laws in California Should I Know About?
As discussed above, Prop 22 previously classified rideshare drivers as independent contractors, as opposed to a cross between an employee and an independent contractor. Thus, if Prop 22 is found to be constitutional on appeal, then rideshare drivers will not be entitled to receive the state minimum wage, overtime payments, or any other legal protections afforded by California labor laws.
Instead, all rideshare driver guidelines will stem from rideshare company policies and each individual driver’s employment contract under Prop 22. The new Uber driver rules will also affect how much a rideshare driver is paid and how they are classified for income tax purposes. Therefore, it is important for rideshare drivers to remain vigilant of any changes to these laws.
When Prop 22 was initially passed, Uber drivers independent contractors in California were no longer covered by the state’s independent contractor laws. Over the past year, this result led to an upsurge of labor strikes and caused numerous California rideshare drivers to file class action lawsuits in court. After a judge recently declared Prop 22 to be unconstitutional, however, it is unclear as to which laws apply to California rideshare drivers in regard to their classifications.
For now, rideshare drivers in California will need to stay informed and wait until a formal decision is made about this issue. Currently, there are several arguments in play. For instance, some rideshare companies are arguing that Prop 22 will continue to govern such issues until the appeals process is over, while other rideshare companies are speculating that rideshare drivers are going to be paid through workers compensation claims.
In addition, the rideshare attorneys who represent the rideshare drivers are saying that they should automatically be converted to employee status. A driver’s personal employment agreement may impact their classification as well. Accordingly, the answer to what rideshare drivers should know about California independent contractor laws will be subject to change over the next few months.
One last important detail to keep in mind about the pending California rideshare law is that rideshare companies are expected to persuade other states to adopt similar legislation for rideshare drivers. Thus, if other states find that these laws are constitutional, then this could potentially affect the decision in California.
How Can I Obtain a Remedy if a Rideshare Law Was Violated?
In the event that a California rideshare law is violated, the best way for a rideshare driver to obtain legal remedies is by filing a private lawsuit in civil court. Alternatively, many uber drivers employees and uber drivers independent contractors have joined together as part of a national class action lawsuit. A rideshare driver should speak to a rideshare lawyer to find out whether they may be eligible to join a regional or national class action rideshare lawsuit.
If a rideshare driver is not eligible to join an existing class action rideshare lawsuit, they should discuss the option of initiating a class action rideshare lawsuit with an attorney. If their attorney does not think a class action lawsuit is a viable option, then the attorney may advise them to file a private lawsuit in civil court.
The laws and procedural requirements for private lawsuits and class actions can vary by state, by court, and by the specific facts or issues in a particular case. Thus, whether a rideshare driver recovers damages or not will depend on the outcome of their case. If a rideshare driver is successful in bringing a lawsuit, then they will most likely be awarded some form of monetary damages.
To learn more about how to obtain remedies when a rideshare law is violated, rideshare drivers and users should contact lawyers and/or law firms that operate in their local jurisdiction.
Should I Hire a California Lawyer?
As previously discussed, the state of California has enacted a number of rideshare laws that provide certain protections and legal rights for persons who use or are employed by rideshare companies. In particular, whether a rideshare driver qualifies for such rights and protections under California rideshare employment laws will depend on their individual employment contract and various state labor laws.
Thus, if you believe that your rights under a specific California rideshare law have been violated by a rideshare service company or driver, then you should speak to a California lawyer who practices law in your local county immediately.
A California lawyer who has experience in handling legal matters that involve violations of California Uber and Lyft law can inform you of your rights and can determine the best way for you to proceed based on the circumstances. Your lawyer can assist you in bringing a lawsuit and filing the necessary paperwork for that lawsuit in court.
Your lawyer can also discuss the types of remedies you may be able to recover if the lawsuit is successful as well as can explain any legal defenses that you may be able to use as an argument in your case. In addition, your lawyer can provide legal representation in court and at any other legal proceedings that arise in connection with your case.
If you need help with drafting, amending, or reviewing an employment contract, your attorney will be able to assist you with these tasks well. Your attorney can also negotiate with the opposing party for fairer contract terms or for a more favorable settlement arrangement on your behalf. Finally, and most importantly, your lawyer can inform you when a formal decision is made in regard to the constitutionality of Prop 22.