Former Uber And Lyft Drivers In Austin Sue Over Abrupt Pullout

Image courtesy of Andy

In Austin, TX last month, city voters approved a ballot measure that would require drivers for ride-hailing apps to pass city background checks and be fingerprinted. Both companies immediately pulled out of the city, suddenly leaving thousands of workers, many of whom were driving for their full-time jobs, out of work. Now drivers are suing the companies, alleging that they were owed notice under the WARN Act.

The WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification) Act is a federal law that requires employers to notify employees and the state government at least 60 days in advance of a plant closing or mass layoff. Workers at Ovation Brands buffet restaurants, for example, are suing their former employer under WARN, saying that the abrupt closings of restaurants violated the law.

Both Uber and Lyft were unwilling to go along with a new city ordinance that would also require cars for hire to be marked and limit where they could pick up passengers. The ordinance was put up for a vote, and city voters chose to keep it in place.

The problem is that WARN does not cover independent contractors and self-employed workers [PDF], which leads straight back to the debate over whether drivers for app-based services are employees or not.

Another ride-hailing startup, Get Me, stepped in and offered to hire drivers who were working for Uber and Lyft –– as long as they pass that new background check with fingerprints that will be required by 2017, of course.

Classes Sue Uber & Lyft for Mass Layoffs [Courthouse News]