There was cheering in November 2020 from proponents when California voters approved Proposition 22, a public referendum that overturned the state’s anti-independent contractor law specifically with regard to Uber, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart drivers, but that joy was short lived.
A state court judge later ruled that the new law violated citizens’ constitutional rights under labor law and struck it down. California takes a fairly broad-based approach to public referendums, but state law also dictates that they cannot be used to take away citizens’ constitutional rights.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal for the First District recently overturned the lower court decision in a 2-1 vote. But the referendum’s supporters didn’t start any cheering again – they know that decision surely will be appealed as well.
The referendum had been mounted by the ride share companies whose drivers would benefit from it. They also backed it with a public relations and advertising campaign to the tune of $205 million, estimated to be the largest amount ever spent on a referendum campaign in California.
In addition to allowing those drivers to continue working as independent contractors, the referendum added benefits for them that the companies would pay for, including occupational accident insurance and certain minimum revenue protection.
The proposition also required the companies to develop anti-discrimination and sexual harassment policies; develop training programs for drivers related to driving, traffic, and accident avoidance.
It recognized and required reporting of sexual assault and misconduct; had zero-tolerance policies for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and required driver criminal background checks.