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California Judge Rules Ballot Initiative Classifying App-Based Drivers As Independent Contractors Is Unconstitutional

August 27, 2021
By Haeggquist & Eck

Proposition 22, the controversial California ballot measure classifying app-based drivers as independent contractors, hit another roadblock on Friday after a judge ruled the law was unconstitutional.  

In its decision, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch determined the law unconstitutionally limited the “power of a future legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers’ compensation law” – a power reserved solely for the legislature under the state constitution.  Further, the law violated the constitutional provision requiring laws and initiatives be limited to a single subject, as it added language preventing app-drivers from unionizing.  The bar on Californians’ right to collective bargaining “appears only to protect the economic interests of the network companies in having a divided, un-unionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation.”  As the unconstitutional provisions could not be severed from the initiative, the entire proposition was found to be unconstitutional.  

What does this mean now?  The ride-sharing companies will assuredly appeal, as Uber spokesperson Noah Edwardsen has already vowed, “we will appeal and we expect to win.”  In the meantime, the ride-sharing companies will pursue a stay on the judge’s ruling, which would essentially freeze the court order until the state court of appeals has weighed in.   Given the interests at stake, this issue could be litigated up to the California Supreme Court. 

A link to the Court’s order can be found here:  https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/21046905-prop-22-unconstitutional