Uber and Lyft Lobby California Appeals Court to Keep Drivers as Contractors

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Arguing before a state appeals court Tuesday, Uber and Lyft lawyers predicted fewer rides for consumers, lower earnings for drivers and a spike in drunk-driving accidents if they are forced to classify California drivers as employees instead of contractors.

“I don’t want the court to think that if the injunction is affirmed, that these people will continue to have these earning opportunities because they won’t,” Lyft attorney Rohit Singla said.

Uber and Lyft want California’s First Appellate District to overturn a lower court’s Aug. 10 preliminary injunction requiring them to start classifying drivers as employees. The injunction was stayed pending appeal on Aug. 20.

Joined by the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra sued Uber and Lyft in May, accusing them of violating Assembly Bill 5 by misclassifying drivers as independent contractors and denying them employment benefits, such as minimum wage, overtime and unemployment insurance. AB 5 went into effect this past January.

If forced to comply with the law, Uber and Lyft say they could no longer let drivers choose their own working hours. Government lawyers say nothing in AB 5 prevents the tech giants from offering flexible schedules.

During a two-hour telephonic hearing before a three-judge panel, Singla said classifying drivers as employees would drastically change his client’s business model and make scheduling flexibility impossible.

He compared Lyft drivers to the state of California 235,000-person workforce of government employees.

“Do they have employees that can work whenever they want, stop working for a month or two,” Singla asked. “No employer can do that, have employees working as long as they want whenever they want.”

Both Uber and Lyft insist they are not “hiring entities” subject to the labor law but rather providers

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Appeals court rules against Anoka-Hennepin schools in ‘landmark’ bias case

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that a transgender student at Coon Rapids High School had a right to use the boys’ locker room.

Instead, the Anoka-Hennepin School District directed the student, N.H., to use an “enhanced privacy” bathroom separate from the boys’ locker room in violation of the state’s human rights act, the court said in a decision filed Monday.

The state Department of Human Rights called it a landmark ruling.

“This decision means that schools are now safer and more welcoming for transgender and gender nonconforming students across Minnesota,” Human Rights Deputy Commissioner Irina Vaynerman said in a statement.

The Court of Appeals also referred to the statewide significance of the Anoka County case.

“An estimated 24,250 adults in Minnesota identify as transgender, all of whom were high school students at some point,” the court said.

Anoka-Hennepin said in a statement it was reviewing the decision and carefully considering its next steps.

“The district’s top priority is maintaining a learning environment that is safe, secure and free from discrimination, and its decision will be guided by those values,” the district said.

N.H. was a member of the boys’ swim team in 2015-16 and had used the boys’ locker room for much of that season before the district moved to halt the practice.

His mother sued the district alleging discrimination in February 2019, and six months later, Anoka County District Judge Jenny Walker Jasper rejected the district’s effort to have the case dismissed — setting the stage for Monday’s decision.

The district based its argument in part on a reading of the employment provision of the state’s human rights act, which also has a provision covering education.

In 2001, the district said, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that an employer’s designation of employee restrooms based on biological

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Wisconsin Home Improvement Chain Appeals Jury Award for Woman’s Injury

Menard Inc. is appealing a jury award to a woman who was injured when she fell over a flatbed cart at its store in Minot, North Dakota.

A jury last year awarded nearly $40,000 to Darlene Johnson, plus about $145,000 in attorney’s fees in a civil lawsuit against the home improvement chain, based in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

According to the complaint in the case, Johnson went to Menards in May 2013 to exchange a floor vent. She stopped at the customer service desk to ask about exchanging the item.

As Johnson turned to leave, she fell onto the flatbed cart that had been left in the walking area beside the service desk, Minot Daily News reported.

Johnson cracked seven teeth which required extensive dental work, including root canals and bridges.

Her attorneys argued Menards was at fault for not keeping the walking area free of obstructions. Menards lawyers said Johnson should have been paying closer attention to her surroundings and that other customers managed to avoid the cart.

The civil jury found that Menards was completely at fault and that Johnson had no responsibility for the accident.

In its appeal to the North Dakota Supreme Court, attorneys for Menards also argue that the award of lawyer’s fees is excessive.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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