Uber says it won't classify drivers as employees despite California bill

Uber said Wednesday that it doesn’t plan to classify its drivers as employees instead of contractors even as California is moving forward with a bill that would make it harder for gig economy employers to withhold protections from its workers.

“Because we continue to believe drivers are properly classified as independent, and because we’ll continue to be responsive to what the vast majority of drivers tell us they want most—flexibility—drivers will not be automatically reclassified as employees, even after January of next year,” when the bill would go into effect, Uber chief legal officer Tony West said in a statement.

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California’s legislature sent the bill, known as AB 5, to Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin Christopher NewsomCalifornia legislature votes to limit payday loans Trump heads to heart of resistance in California Anti-vaccine activists pour red liquid onto CA Senate floor: report MORE’s (D) desk on Wednesday, and he has vowed to sign it. The legislation would make it harder for companies such as Uber, Lyft and DoorDash to classify their workers as contractors.

But West argued Wednesday that the test the new law would apply to company’s classification of workers is not impossible for Uber to work around. He also anticipates that the company’s stance will prompt lawsuits from its drivers.

“We expect we will continue to respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court as necessary, just as we do now,” he said. “But we will also continue to advocate for the independence and choice that drivers tell us again and again in surveys, polls, focus groups, and personal conversations that they value most.”

West said that Uber, Lyft and DoorDash would be moving forward with plans to push a state ballot initiative that would ensure that their drivers are “retaining the flexible access to on-demand work they enjoy today.”