Court Rules in Favor of California: Uber and Lyft Drivers are Employees

August 14, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured Articles, Front Page

Quinci LeGardye, California Black Media 

Statewide — On Aug. 10, a California Superior Court judge ruled that rideshare companies Uber and Lyft must change the classification of their drivers from independent contractors to employees.

The ruling was a major victory for California lawmakers in their yearlong struggle to enforce AB 5, the controversial worker classification bill that went into effect Jan. 1.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman ruled in favor of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s argument that Uber and Lyft are violating AB 5, which says workers can only be considered independent contractors if they perform duties outside the usual course of a company’s business.

“The court has weighed in and agreed: Uber and Lyft need to put a?stop to unlawful misclassification of their drivers while our litigation continues,”?said Becerra.?“While this fight still has a long way to go, we’re pushing ahead to make sure the people of California get the workplace protections they deserve. Our state and workers shouldn’t have to foot the bill when big businesses try to skip out on their responsibilities. We’re going to keep working to make sure Uber and Lyft play by the rules.”

Schulman paused the injunction for 10 days to give the companies a chance to appeal the decision. Both companies made statements Aug. 9 saying that they will appeal the ruling.

An Uber spokesperson said, “The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law. When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression.”

“Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers,” Lyft said, referring to Prop 22, the upcoming ballot measure. Voters will decide Nov. 3 if rideshare drivers in California can remain contractors or if they have to become W-2 employees;  

Becerra, along with the City Attorneys of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, filed their worker misclassification lawsuit against Uber and Lyft on May 5, followed by the motion for a preliminary injunction on June 24.

“This is a resounding victory for thousands of?Uber?and Lyft drivers who are working hard — and, in this pandemic, incurring risk every day — to provide for their families,”?said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer.??”Of course, our fight is not over and we will vigorously pursue this litigation until these workers have the permanent protection they?deserve.”??

“Misclassification hurts drivers and it puts the burden on taxpayers to pay for benefits that Uber and Lyft should be providing,”?said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera.?“These companies have pocketed millions of dollars by leaving taxpayers to foot the bill. That’s unacceptable. During this global pandemic, it’s even more important for drivers to get access to protections like unemployment insurance. There is no rule that prevents these drivers from continuing to have all of the flexibility they currently enjoy. Being properly classified as an employee doesn’t change that.”

Celebrating the New V.P. Candidate!

August 11, 2020 by  
Filed under Featured Articles, Front Page

Kamala Harris

By Tanu Henry

“Black women and women of color have long been underrepresented in elected office and in November we have an opportunity to change that. Let’s get to work,” Harris tweeted about three hours before Biden’s announcement. 

Before she was elected Senator in 2016, Harris served as Attorney General of California for six years, beginning in 2011. Before that, she served as District Attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011. 

Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, lives in Los Angeles with her husband, attorney Douglas Emhoff. If the Democrats win, Harris will make history as the first Black and Asian woman to be selected as a vice presidential candidate in the United States on a major political party’s presidential ticket. 

“Senator Kamala Harris has been an incredible leader and an inspiration for so many of us, and I’m proud to call her a friend and mentor,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed wrote on Facebook. 

“I’m thrilled that Vice President Biden had the vision to recognize that Senator Harris can bring the integrity, intelligence, and commitment to justice for all that our country so badly needs during this difficult time,” Breed continued. “I know how much it means to have leaders who reflect the people they represent, and today I’m thinking about all those little girls in this country that will see a strong, principled woman walk into the White House and know that they too can make that same journey someday.” 

Harris earned her BA at Howard University in Washington, DC, and her JD at the University of California, Hastings.

Funding Remains to Aid Small Businesses

A program San Bernardino County created to help small businesses overcome some of the challenges they face during the COVID-19 pandemic still has millions available to support local businesses.

The COVID-Compliant Business Partnership Program was launched in May using $30 million in federal emergency relief funding, and so far, a little more than 3,000 small businesses have been approved for the program.

In order to qualify for funding, businesses can only have between 1 and 100 employees and must have a storefront where they serve customers. Self-employed individuals with no employees are not eligible; however, barbers and hair stylists who rent space are eligible. Nonprofit organizations with storefronts are also eligible.

Partners also must demonstrate compliance with State/County public health orders, and incorporate safety and social distancing practices and measures in their business operations, including requiring employees and customers to wear masks.

Approved businesses can apply for grant funding of up to $2,500. For business owners with multiple storefront locations, the first qualifying business location is eligible for $2,500, with each additional eligible business location receiving $1,000. They can also purchase personal protective equipment directly from the County at cost.

So far, the program has distributed more than $7 million to local small businesses, and those businesses have purchased more than $100,000 worth of personal protective equipment through County sources.

Approved businesses also receive a window placard they can display to show their customers they are taking measures to fight the pandemic.

More than 200 larger businesses have also joined the program even though they don’t qualify for funding. However, they do receive a COVID-Compliant Business Partner placard for their front windows.

You can view a map of our approved partners at this link

Business owners interested in applying for the program can do so at this link

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