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26 Sep 2021

Nicholas Lovino, Courthouse News Service (USA)

USA: Ninth Circuit court revives ex- delivery driver’s misclassification lawsuit against Grubhub

Ninth Circuit revives labor suit against Grubhub", 20 Sep 2021

The Ninth Circuit on Monday revived a former delivery driver’s lawsuit against Grubhub, finding a voter-backed law that exempts certain California gig workers from the state’s labor code does not apply retroactively.

In November 2020, 58.6% of California voters approved Proposition 22, a ballot measure funded by Uber, Lyft and other gig companies that exempts app-based ride-hail and delivery drivers from a state law requiring those workers be treated as employees and given full employment benefits...

Raef Lawson sued Grubhub in 2015 for misclassifying him as an independent contractor during the four months he spent delivering food in 2015 and 2016. The classification made him ineligible for overtime pay and expense reimbursement.

Lawson brought his action under California’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA), a law that allows private citizens to act in the place of the state attorney general to recover penalties for labor violations.

His was the first-ever gig worker misclassification suit to make it to trial in California, though U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley ruled in favor of Grubhub in 2018...

During oral arguments in June, a Grubhub attorney argued the ABC test should not apply in this case because Lawson failed to obtain a favorable judgment on his claims before Proposition 22 took effect.

...[T]he Ninth Circuit panel concluded that Proposition 22 did not void Lawson’s claims against the food-delivery giant...

“As we expected, the court reversed the district court’s decision that our client was an independent contractor,” Liss-Riordan wrote. “We expect judgment will be entered on his behalf back in the district court...”