The Labor Commissioner’s Office, a California state agency dedicated to ensuring a just day’s pay in every workplace in the State, has filed separate lawsuits against transportation companies Uber and Lyft for committing wage theft by misclassifying employees as independent contractors. These lawsuits follow on the heels of another misclassification lawsuit against a Northern California-based mobile car wash company a few weeks ago (read more here).

The lawsuits allege that by misclassifying workers, Uber and Lyft failed to meet their obligations as employers as required by California law, including:

  • paying drivers at least minimum wage for all hours worked,
  • paying overtime,
  • providing paid rest periods,
  • reimbursing drivers for the cost of all equipment and supplies needed to perform their work and for work-related personal vehicle mileage

The suits also allege the companies failed to provide paid sick leave, to provide accurate itemized wage deduction statements, to timely pay all wages owed during and upon separation of employment, and to provide notice of employment-related information required by law.

This is the first lawsuit brought by the Labor Commissioner against the Uber and Lyft for allegedly depriving their workers of a host of legal protections in violation of California labor law. Under AB5, a new California law that went into effect this year, very few workers should actually be classified as independent contractors. Indeed, only workers who are free from control from the hiring entity, perform work outside of the hiring entity’s usual business, and engage in an independently established trade or occupation would be considered independent contractors.

If you have been employed by Uber or Lyft and were potentially improperly classified as an independent contractor, you may be able to bring a legal claim for damages. California law allows workers who are misclassified as independent contractors to file a wage and hour lawsuit.

Damages against the employer can include:

  • unpaid wages,
  • unpaid overtime,
  • unpaid meal and rest breaks, as well as
  • penalties and interest

In all California employment law cases there is a statute of limitations on how long a worker can wait to bring a claim. Generally speaking, a misclassified worker statute of limitations is three (3) years from the date when the most recent violation has occurred. However, you will want to discuss your specific case with an experienced employment attorney.

If you believe that your employer has been wrongly classifying you as an independent contractor, know that California law provides you with the means to enforce your rights. For a free, no obligation consultation, contact the skilled employment attorneys at LOEAB Law today.