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Uber/Lyft Drivers: ‘All California Workers Should Be Safe at Work’

April 24, 2024 News

Media Contacts
Rideshare Drivers United, media@drivers-united.org
Asian Law Caucus, media@advancingjustice-alc.org

Uber/Lyft Drivers: ‘All California Workers Should Be Safe at Work’

CA Superior Court Judge: Uber and Lyft Cannot Bypass Cal/OSHA Administrative Process

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California Superior Court judge ruled on Monday that Uber and Lyft cannot evade the California Occupational Safety and Health Association (Cal/OSHA) process on citations issued against the rideshare corporations for violating state health and safety protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber and Lyft drivers welcomed the decision and emphasized the continued need for health and safety protections for all app-based drivers and California workers.

“Whether we drive, serve food, clean hospitals and homes, or care for others, all California workers should be safe at work and able to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our co-workers and customers,” said Roberto Moreno, who has driven for Uber and Lyft for almost seven years and is a member of Rideshare Drivers United. “Uber and Lyft denied us basic protective equipment including masks and health screenings. Many of our co-workers got sick, lost pay, and as a result, fell into financial and health crises. Some of our fellow drivers lost their lives, a reminder of what is at stake here. Rather than comply with California’s health protections, Uber and Lyft have spent the past two years fighting against those minimal rules and suing us. We will not be deterred from doing what’s right. All California workers have a right to health and safety.”

In 2022, Cal/OSHA cited Uber and Lyft for a host of violations, including not providing drivers with masks or gloves, not telling drivers when they were exposed to an infected passenger, and not screening drivers for COVID before their shifts. The agency fined each corporation $2,255, which Uber and Lyft appealed. Several drivers joined as parties to the appeals to ensure workers who were directly affected by the violations have a voice in the proceedings. After they joined the case, Uber and Lyft sued Cal/OSHA and the drivers and attempted to get around the agency’s citations process. This week’s rulings mark an end to those lawsuits and require that Uber and Lyft complete the Cal/OSHA administrative process before turning to the courts, just as any other cited company is required to do.

“Most California rideshare drivers are immigrants and people of color, communities who were already disproportionately harmed by the pandemic,” said Winnie Kao from the Asian Law Caucus, which published a report last year with RDU on California drivers’ working conditions. “Health and safety are fundamental rights that make it possible for every person to do their job and provide for their families. No corporation should get a free pass on that collective responsibility.”

In the past several months, Uber and Lyft drivers organizing with Rideshare Drivers United went on strike on Valentine’s Day, joining thousands of drivers across the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. In California, drivers are leading a statewide campaign to win fair pay and full protections of labor rights.

“For every mile we drive for Uber or Lyft, driver pay is falling month by month. These corporations are making more and more money each year through our labor, while refusing to do the very basic things that keep us all safe,” said Tyler Sandness with Rideshare Drivers United. “Rideshare drivers have participated in the Cal/OSHA process because we need to be safe at work to do our jobs, and our customers deserve the same. Those protections are in place for Californians’ well-being and security. No exceptions.”

Uber and Lyft drivers in the Superior Court case and Cal/OSHA proceedings are represented by Winifred Kao and Ammad Rafiqi of the Asian Law Caucus and Catha Worthman and Genevieve Casey of Feinberg, Jackson, Worthman & Wasow LLP.