Our office has been contacted by Lyft drivers who have received a notice of class action settlement from the case Nicholas LaBorde v. Lyft, Inc., BC707667 (L.A. County Superior Court) and who asked for information about their options.
From the Class Notice we reviewed, it appears that the LaBorde class settlement covers only a relatively small group of drivers, namely, only those drivers who have:
1) Gave at least one ride in California using Lyft after July 2, 2016 through and including September 21, 2020; and
2) Submitted a request to opt out of the arbitration provision in Lyft’s Terms of Service Agreement through and including May 31, 2020
1) Gave at least one ride in California using Lyft at any time after May 30, 2014 through and including September 21, 2020;
2) Opted out of the class-action settlement in Cotter v. Lyft (Case No. 13-cv-04065-VC, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California); and
3) Submitted a request to opt out of the arbitration provision in Lyft’s Terms of Service Agreement through and including May 31, 2020.
If you qualify for the LaBorde class settlement and want to get a payment from it, then as the Class Notice you received says, you don’t have to do anything. You will receive a payment from the settlement as indicated in the Class Notice. In exchange, you will have given up any claims you could have brought against Lyft for wage and hour violations through March 3, 2021 (the date the court approved the LaBorde class settlement).
If you qualify for the LaBorde settlement, but do NOT want to release your claims against Lyft through March 3, 2021 and are willing to forego the payment you could get from the LaBorde class settlement, then you need to send in a Request for Exclusion to the settlement administrator, as indicated on the Class Notice, postmarked no later than June 4, 2021.
Impact of Participating in the LaBorde Settlement on Potential Relief from AG & LCO Cases
Drivers who qualify for the LaBorde settlement have asked whether the decision to accept payment from the LaBorde settlement (and NOT opt out of the LaBorde settlement) means that they are giving up any relief that they might be entitled to through the pending California Attorney General and California Labor Commissioner lawsuits against Lyft. Unfortunately, the answer is not clear.
As you have probably heard, the California Attorney General and several City Attorney offices have filed suit against Lyft and Uber for misclassifying drivers and are seeking restitution for amounts, including minimum wage, overtime, and business expenses owed to drivers from April 6, 2016 forward.
The Labor Commissioner’s Office (LCO) has also filed suit against Lyft and Uber for misclassifying drivers and is more comprehensively seeking amounts owed to drivers not only for minimum wage, overtime, and business expenses owed to drivers, but also waiting time penalties, liquidated damages and other amounts owed under the state Labor Code, from April 6, 2017 forward.
Sometimes government entities (especially the Labor Commissioner), are able to recover substantially more for workers in their enforcement actions than plaintiff attorneys are able to get through a typical class action settlement.
Lyft will likely argue that participating in the LaBorde settlement waives a driver’s right to collect any recovery from the AG or LCO lawsuit. But the language of the release in the LaBorde class notice isn’t entirely clear about this. We also expect that the AG/City Attorneys and LCO will disagree, on principle, and argue that just because a driver releases his/her own individual claims against Lyft, that does not affect or preclude the AG/City Attorneys, or the LCO from prosecuting the government entity’s own own claims against Lyft and securing additional relief for the same workers for the same period of time (with a credit to Lyft for amounts already paid out). Many advocates think the AG/City Attorneys and LCO will assert this argument if the issue comes up and that the courts would rule in the AG/City Attorneys and LCO’s favor — but there’s no guarantee.
If a driver qualifies for the LaBorde settlement, he/she might want to just go ahead and take the LaBorde settlement money, especially if he/she really needs the money now, and then just wait and see if the AG and LCO are able to get them more money later.
On the other hand, some drivers who qualify for the LaBorde settlement may not want to participate in the settlement if they are uncomfortable with there being any chance it might mean that they are precluded from getting relief through the AG or LCO lawsuits, especially if they don’t really need the money now. The driver should know, however, that there is no guarantee that the AG or LCO lawsuit will recover more (or any) money for them. Also, practically speaking, the AG and LCO lawsuits could take many, many more years to resolve, so any money they might get from those suits may not be for a long, long time.
Drivers should seek to a consult with an attorney about their own individual situation.