Uber, Lyft drivers drop price-fixing lawsuit in California

A group of Uber and Lyft drivers have dropped a class-action lawsuit in California that accused the ride-hailing companies of unfairly stopping them from setting their own fares as independent contractors. The drivers in a filing on Wednesday said they had dismissed their case, which hit a major setback last year when a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that the plaintiffs would be required to arbitrate their claims individually.

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The plaintiffs last week dropped their appeal of the arbitration decision. It was unclear whether they would pursue arbitration claims.

Attorneys for the drivers at plaintiffs’ law firm Edelson and Colorado-based Towards Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to similar requests.

The lawsuit by current and former drivers, filed in 2022, was a novel legal challenge against two of the biggest on-demand rideshare companies. The complaint said Uber and Lyft were engaged in illegal price-fixing.

Uber and Lyft have won rulings in recent years beating back claims from drivers that they should be declared employees with a broader range of benefits than independent contractors.

Unlike those cases, the lawsuit in San Francisco alleged that drivers as independent contractors should have control over setting fare prices. The lawsuit said policies at Uber and Lyft “deprive those drivers of economic independence” by fixing the prices that drivers must charge and sought an order ending the practice.

Lyft and Uber had quickly argued that the claims belonged in private arbitration based on driver contracts.

The drivers’ lawyers countered that the plaintiffs had opted out of arbitration agreements and should be allowed to sue in court as a class action.

But a judge last year concluded that the plaintiffs “did not opt out (or even attempt to opt out) of all of the arbitration agreements.” The court also struck down the case as a prospective class action.

The Biden administration in January unveiled a new rule that would make it harder for companies to classify their workers as independent contractors. Uber and Lyft have said the rule likely will not require them to designate their drivers as employees.

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