Slack Davis Sanger, LLP, and The Brandi Law Firm of San Francisco have joined forces to file dual class action lawsuits against technology ride-hailing giants Uber and Lyft, respectively. Attorneys Michael L. Slack and John R. Davis of Slack Davis Sanger, LLP, and Thomas J. Brandi and Brian J. Malloy of The Brandi Law Firm will serve as lead counsel in the lawsuits.
The suits allege that in shuttering their respective Austin, Texas operations, Uber and Lyft violated federal employment laws, and specifically the Worker Adjustment, Retraining and Notification (“WARN”) Act. The WARN Act requires that employers give employees notice before effectuating either a “plant closing” or “mass layoff” as those terms are defined in the WARN Act. Unless an employer gives satisfactory notice, employees are entitled to up to sixty days’ back pay and benefits pursuant to the statute. Uber and Lyft each claimed to have had more than 10,000 drivers in the Austin area, according to quotes from corporate representatives for both companies.
“Lost in the political theater surrounding the Uber and Lyft versus Austin City Council battle was the real-world effect on the thousands of Austinites who suddenly lost their incomes when Uber and Lyft abandoned Austin,” said Michael L. Slack.
John R. Davis added that “Uber and Lyft have already earned notoriety for an ‘above the law’ attitude, and their continued commitment to disregarding this country’s employment laws is both troubling and extremely harmful to the very people whose efforts have made Uber and Lyft billion-dollar companies.” Mr. Davis pointed to an example of when Uber ran a personal attack ad against Austin City Councilwoman Ann Kitchen, claiming in its app that Ms. Kitchen wanted to “impose 19th Century regulation on 21st Century technology.” Mr. Davis, noting the irony, remarked: “In fact, it is Uber and Lyft that wish to impose 19th Century labor regulation on 21st Century employees.”
Despite the statements in Uber’s and Lyft’s Terms & Conditions that drivers are independent contractors and not employees, multiple federal courts have weighed the evidence and concluded that Uber’s and Lyft’s drivers are in fact presumptive employees under applicable law.
After being served with the complaints, Uber and Lyft will have 21 days to respond to the lawsuits.
Slack Davis Sanger, LLP, and The Brandi Law Firm have experience litigating complex cases together, having successfully represented the passengers and families of firefighters killed in the deadliest helicopter crash involving working firefighters in U.S. history, when a Carson Helicopters S-61N Sikorsky helicopter crashed near Weaverville, California, on August 5, 2008, killing nine people including seven firefighters.
The cases, filed in the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, are Johnston v. Uber Tech, Inc., No. 3:16cv3134 (N.D. Cal. filed June 9, 2016) and Thornton v. Lyft, Inc., No. 3:16cv3135 (N.D. Cal. filed June 9, 2016).