Oct 22, 2020 - Technology

Drivers sue Uber over in-app messages promoting ballot measure

Uber route map with hazard signs placed on a twisty route

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

A group of Uber drivers, along with nonprofits Worksafe and the Chinese Progressive Association, have sued the ride-hailing company, arguing that in-app messages promoting a California ballot measure that would enshrine their status as independent contractors violate drivers' right to be free of political influence from their employer.

Why it matters: Uber and other gig-economy companies have poured nearly $200 million into the campaign, as classifying their workers as independent contractors instead of employees is central to their business models.

What they're saying: The drivers behind the suit "fear that if they do not cooperate by speaking out in favor of Prop 22 through the video messages, texts, and positive survey answers solicited by Uber, Uber will retaliate by giving them less favorable or less plentiful assignments, or no assignments at all," law firm Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe, representing the drivers, says in a press release.

The other side: "This is an absurd lawsuit, without merit, filed solely for press attention and without regard for the facts," an Uber spokesperson says in a statement. "[T]he vast majority of drivers support Prop 22 and have for months because they know it will improve their lives and protect the way they prefer to work."

Editor's note: The story have been updated to note that two nonprofits are also plaintiffs in the case.

Go deeper