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Another Judge Turns Back Lyft Driver Worker Reclassification Attempt Amid Pandemic

The Recorder

A California state court judge has refused to grant an emergency motion in a case against Lyft Inc. that would reclassify drivers as employees, so that they can take advantage of state-mandated paid sick leave during the coronavirus pandemic.

In an order Thursday, Judge Ethan Schulman of San Francisco County Superior Court denied the Lyft drivers’ emergency motion for preliminary injunction and granted motions brought by Lyft’s Keker, Van Nest & Peters counsel to compel arbitration and stay the case.

Schulman agreed with U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria of the Northern District of California, who remanded the case to state court in April after finding that granting the motion could mean Lyft drivers would lose out on “thousands of dollars” of relief designated for independent contractors in federal coronavirus legislation. 

Schulman said plaintiffs counsel at Lichten & Liss-Riordan failed to address the essential point of Chhabria’s decision: “the extraordinary relief Plaintiffs seek would provide at most … modest benefits to a small subset of Lyft drivers, while potentially risking the eligibility of all Lyft drivers to receive substantially greater relief under the emergency federal legislation,” he wrote.

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