It's seeming more and more inevitable that the California courts will find that drivers for Uber and Lyft, and likely the independent contractors who do things like your Instacart shopping and Washio laundry delivering, are going to be ruled legal employees. Case in point, we've got news of yet another lawsuit, this one involving liability and a driver for Yellow Cab, and an SF jury just found in favor of a passenger who was suing the company for $8 million in damages for injuries she sustained in an accident.
Yellow Cab had tried, according to the Chronicle, to argue that all their drivers are independent and that they shouldn't be responsible for the woman's injuries. Much like Uber and Lyft argue that they are technology companies who merely provide software to aid the the drivers' business, Yellow Cab said in a deposition that they are "in the business of providing the vehicles and/or the dispatch service, the color scheme," but they are not a transportation company. Nice try! The case is slightly different, of course, because unlike Uber, Yellow Cab owns the vehicles.
The ruling follows on a decision by the California Labor Commission two weeks ago in favor of former Uber driver Barbara Ann Berwick who successfully petitioned to get Uber to pay back her expenses during a short stint as an UberX driver last year. The commission agreed Berwick should be considered an employee of the company.
Class action suits against Uber and Lyft in U.S. District court are still pending, and many suspect that they will have enormous effects on both companies' valuations.