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Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Uber is confident that a California bill codifying stricter requirements for classifying workers as independent contractors, which is on its way to become law, won't force the firm to reclassify its drivers in the state.

What they're saying: One part of California's new legal test defining contract employment looks at whether a worker's work is "outside the company's usual course of business." Uber general counsel Tony West told reporters Wednesday that Uber believes its main business is building a technology marketplace, not transporting passengers, a familiar refrain from ride-hailing companies over the years.

Why it matters: That means Uber will stay put unless and until it loses a challenge in court and is forced to reclassify drivers. Uber believes it would pass the legal test, which is similar to ones already in place in three other states where Uber operates, West said.

Yes, but: Uber, along with rival Lyft and food delivery company DoorDash, is planning to fight the bill with a state ballot measure that would effectively create a separate employment category.

  • It's doing so to preempt the lawsuits over its classification of drivers as contractors that will inevitably be filed. Uber has already faced a number of those across the U.S. and in California.
  • Recent amendments to the bill also give certain city attorneys the ability to file injunctions against employers to enforce the new law.
  • The companies also worked to turn their drivers and customers into advocates against the bill as it made its way through the state Senate.

Similarly to Lyft, Uber warns that should it "fail the test" via a legal challenge and be forced to reclassify its drivers, the circumstances of their work would change.

  • "Certainly the flexibility of drivers would be limited, shifts would be a feature of what it means to interact with the platform... they would not be able to be dual-app" (work for both Uber and Lyft), said West during a call with reporters.
  • While nothing in the law dictates that Uber and Lyft would have to mandate those changes, it wouldn't be surprising to see the companies seek to impose stricter work requirements to offset the additional costs and potential smaller corps of drivers.

Go deeper

14 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

14 hours ago - World

France recalls ambassadors from U.S. and Australia over submarine deal

Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L), French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (C), and French ambassador to the U.S. Philippe Etienne. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

France has taken the extraordinary step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia after both countries blindsided their French allies with a new military pact and submarine contract, the French Foreign Ministry announced on Friday.

The backstory: While sealing an agreement with the U.S. and U.K. to acquire nuclear submarines, Australia ripped up an existing $90 billion submarine deal with France. That led senior French officials to accuse the U.S. of a "stab in the back."

Updated 15 hours ago - World

In reversal, Pentagon now says drone strike killed 10 Afghan civilians

Caskets for the dead are carried towards the gravesite as relatives and friends attend a mass funeral for members of a family that is said to have been killed in a U.S. drone airstrike, in Kabul on Aug. 30. Photo: Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A U.S. drone strike launched on Aug. 29 killed 10 civilians in Afghanistan, including seven children, rather than the Islamic State extremists the Biden administration claimed it targeted, the Pentagon said Friday.

Why it matters: U.S. Central Command said at the time that officials "know" the drone strike "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, and that they were "confident we successfully hit the target."