Last month, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and several drivers sued to overturn the voters’ approval of Proposition 22 on the November statewide ballot. The electorate passed the measure with almost 60% of the vote. The lawsuit was filed directly with the California Supreme Court and had support by means of amicus letters from the Chairs of the Assembly and Senate Labor Committees, as well as the Dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law. They essentially argued that Prop. 22 will make it harder for the Legislature to enact a workers’ compensation system for gig-economy workers.
The SEIU lawsuit, which was a petition of writ of mandamus, also claimed other constitutional violations, including the single subject rule, and that the 7/8 vote threshold for legislative amendment was unconstitutionally limiting to the Legislature’s ability to make changes to the law as enacted by Prop. 22. The successful ballot measure was sponsored by Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and Postmates in an effort to retain their drivers as independent contractors, so long as certain benefits are provided to them. These companies spent over $200 million to pass their ballot measure, which made it the most expensive ballot measure in California history.
Today the California Supreme Court summarily denied the writ petition. Because the lawsuit was filed directly with the Supreme Court, the door is open for the plaintiffs to refile in a lower court. Readers may recall that, in October 2020, a California Court of Appeal ruled that Uber and Lyft had been misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors. Prop. 22 prospectively addresses this issue for app-based drivers.