A Massachusetts judge on Thursday denied an offer to dismiss a lawsuit by the state attorney general challenging the classification of Uber and Lyft drivers as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to sick leave and other costly benefits.
Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger did not rule on whether or not drivers are misclassified, but his decision allows Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to file her claims against Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft. Inc in court.
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“(T) he allegations in the complaint plausibly suggest that Uber and Lyft misclassify their drivers and, as a result, deprive some drivers of the required minimum wage, overtime and sick leave,” Salinger wrote in his decision.
Uber and Lyft deny that their drivers are misclassified, saying the vast majority enjoy the flexibility that comes with working on demand. Companies argue that flexibility would disappear if they were forced to reclassify drivers as employees.
UBER WILL GIVE RIGHTS TO UK DRIVER WORKERS AFTER DEFEAT TO COURTS
The companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday’s ruling.
Healey in a statement called the decision a “great victory in our ongoing fight to support and protect Uber and Lyft drivers from unfair and exploitative practices.”
|UBER||UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC.||53.89||+1.32||+ 2.51%|
|LYFT||LYFT INC.||63.57||+2.60||+ 4.26%|
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of challenges over the rights of concert workers, most of whom have few legal rights and benefits. A heated battle follows in California, where voters last year cemented the contractor status of app-based workers in a ballot measure sponsored by Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies.
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The Massachusetts lawsuit, filed in July, seeks a court order declaring the transportation drivers to be employees.
(Reporting by Tina Bellon in Austin and Nate Raymond in Boston; Edited by Karishma Singh)