Last week’s National Labor Relations Board decision that Uber drivers are contractors, not employees, was a pretty significant win for the rideshare company we love to hate. (Though it was not the final NLRB ruling, and several ongoing lawsuits challenge this conclusion.) But there are so many legal proceedings against Uber that just one win does not put this company in the clear.
Last week a California appeals court dropped another headache on the rideshare giant, as Bloomberg reports that Uber must hand over data to the San Francisco city attorney on how frequently its drivers park illegally, cause congestion, and create safety hazards.
City attorney Dennis Herrera sued Uber to get this information way back in 2017, the same information their rival Lyft handed over without complaint. Not long after, SFPD commander of municipal transportation Robert O’Sullivan told a Board of Supervisors committee that Uber and Lyft accounted for 64 percent of the city’s downtown traffic violations according to a Curbed report.
Bloomberg describes these violations as “driving in and blocking transit and bicycle lanes, failing to stop for pedestrians, and illegal U-turns.”
The appeals court said their ruling that “we do not and cannot know at this juncture what the City Attorney will choose to pursue, let alone whether or not any legal action it undertakes will hinder, aid, or have no impact upon the CPUC in its regulation.” (The California Public Utilities Commission has this information, though it has not been made public.)
Uber’s underwhelming stock performance is leaves it currently 8% below its initial share price, and legal uncertainties like this are a big reason why. One city attorney’s lawsuit may seem like an insignificant problem for a global brand like Uber, but presumably, the rule-breaking rate of San Francisco Uber drivers probably does apply at the same proportion nationwide, or across the world. That could mean harsh penalties the company is not equipped to pay, like one idea just floated by USF researchers to make Muni free and force Uber and Lyft to pay for it.