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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

California fines Uber $59 million over sexual assault data

Photo: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images

A judge ordered Uber on Monday to pay a $59 million fine to California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and threatened to suspend its state permit to operate if the firm fails to do so within 30 days.

The big picture: The judge found the ride-hailing giant had failed to share data with the regulator following Uber's safety report last year, which revealed that U.S. users reported nearly 6,000 incidents of sexual assault and harassment on trips made in 2017 and 2018.

Updated 5 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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  3. U.S. news: California surpasses 50,000 deaths COVID-19 deaths, more than any other state — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter return to church after receiving COVID-19 vaccines
  4. Local: Public transit ridership in Twin Cities dropped 53% amid pandemic — Data firm predicts "complete chaos" in next phases of Florida's vaccine rolloutAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for the coronavirus

Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.