Prop 22 Ruled Unconstitutional: The Impact On Workers’ Rights

If you’re a California gig worker, the law Proposition 22 seriously impacted your job and finances. This law, funded by big businesses like Uber and Lyft, lets these companies ignore other laws requiring them to treat drivers like other employees.

You may not have heard that Prop 22 has been declared unconstitutional, but this is a significant win for workers’ rights. Here’s what you need to know about the law, the new ruling, and how it will affect you going forward.

What Is Proposition 22?

Prop 22 is a law that went into effect after a ballot measure was approved in California in November 2020. The measure specifically allows gig economy companies that work with drivers, such as Uber, DoorDash, Lyft, Instacart, and Postmates, to ignore California’s Assembly Bill 5 and treat drivers as contractors.

Prop 22 was clearly designed to shield major gig economy companies from providing full benefits and pay. While the measure did include some concessions, it still treats drivers poorly. According to one study, Prop 22 only guarantees workers about $5.64 per hour based on the amount of time they actually work.

It accomplishes that by defining time spent “working” only as the time a driver is actually on the road, ignoring the time they spend cleaning vehicles, waiting for requests, and other essential elements of gig economy driving. The measure as a whole has been widely derided by workers’ rights organizations, unions, and other labor groups.

How the Unconstitutional Ruling Affects Prop 22

Luckily, it looks like Prop 22 may eventually be removed from the law. As of August 20th, 2021, the measure has been declared unconstitutional by Judge Frank Roesch of the Alameda County Superior Court. According to Judge Roesch, the entirety of Prop 22 is unenforceable because the bill limits the legislature’s power to pass relevant amendments.

The companies in favor of Prop 22 are already appealing the ruling to the California Supreme Court. For the moment, the measure remains in effect. However, if the state Supreme Court agrees that it’s unconstitutional, then the bill will be considered unenforceable, and Uber, Lyft, and related companies will be legally required to consider their drivers as actual employees instead of contractors.

How the Ruling Impacts Workers’ Rights

This is a significant win for gig workers, and it’s good news for everyone employed in California. Should the unconstitutionality ruling stand up to appeal, gig workers throughout California will be protected under the law like any other employee. That includes:

  • Guaranteed minimum wage for all hours worked
  • Overtime pay
  • Paid sick leave
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Guaranteed healthcare benefits
  • Additional compensation for each mile driven

Beyond the benefits for gig drivers, other workers may also see benefits. Should Prop 22 be struck down, it’s a clear signal from the California Supreme Court that workers’ rights are paramount. Anyone who’s not receiving fair compensation will have firmer ground to sue their employers. Essentially, the Prop 22 ruling will determine whether California prioritizes big business or the individual worker, and it currently looks like the worker will win.

Looking Forward

There’s no guarantee about how the Supreme Court will rule on the Prop 22 appeal. However, the current unconstitutionality ruling is a good sign for workers. If you’re being taken advantage of by an employer, there’s never been a better time to reach out for help. Get in touch with a qualified workers’ rights attorney and start fighting back today.