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In an attempt to avoid having its lawsuit against Uber sent to arbitration, Alphabet's self-driving car unit told a judge it wouldn't use its employment contract with a former employee to prove its claims that the ride-hailing company is using stolen trade secrets.

At the center of the debate at Thursday's hearing in district court is an arbitration clause in Waymo's employment contract with the former employee, Anthony Levandowski.

Waymo's take: The Alphabet unit argues that its contract only covers parties that signed it. In this case, Waymo says, it's suing Uber for using stolen trade secrets—not Levandowski for breaching his contract.

Uber's take: The ride-hailing company says that Waymo's lawsuit is entirely based on Levandowski's actions, and the arbitration clause should therefore apply.

What's next: The judge is expected to make a decision after the parties file responses to additional questions by Monday.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
17 mins ago - Economy & Business

The fragile recovery

Data: Department of Labor; Chart: Axios Visuals

The number of people receiving unemployment benefits is falling but remains remarkably high three weeks before pandemic assistance programs are set to expire. More than 1 million people a week are still filing for initial jobless claims, including nearly 300,000 applying for pandemic assistance.

By the numbers: As of Nov. 14, 20.2 million Americans were receiving unemployment benefits of some kind, including more than 13.4 million on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) programs that were created as part of the CARES Act and end on Dec. 26.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
37 mins ago - Politics & Policy

The top candidates Biden is considering for key energy and climate roles

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has urged President-elect Joe Biden to nominate Mary Nichols, chair of California's air pollution regulator, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: The reported push by Schumer could boost Nichol's chances of leading an agency that will play a pivotal role in Biden's vow to enact aggressive new climate policies — especially because the plan is likely to rest heavily on executive actions.

U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows

Data: BLS; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.7% from 6.9%, the government said on Friday.

Why it matters: The labor market continues to recover even as coronavirus cases surge— though it's still millions of jobs short of the pre-pandemic level. The problem is that the rate of recovery is slowing significantly.