from the still-not-employees dept.
The showdown between ride-hailing service Lyft and its California drivers appears to have come to an end.
US District Judge Vince Chhabria gave final approval on [March 16] to a $27 million settlement agreement for a class-action lawsuit between Lyft and more than 200,000 of its former and current California drivers, according to court filings.[PDF]
This settlement seems to conclude the battle over how the ride-hailing company classifies its drivers. Under the agreement, the drivers will remain independent contractors, rather than be converted to employees.
[...] While Lyft's settlement seems to close the debate over driver classification, things could still change.
"The agreement is not perfect," Chhabria wrote in his order on Thursday. "And the status of Lyft drivers under California law remains uncertain going forward."
[Ed note - This story vandalized by Fnord666]
El Reg continues
The drivers sued Lyft in 2013 arguing that they should be classified as employees rather than independent contractors--the same issue that has dogged rival Uber in courts around the country.
By classifying drivers as independent contractors, Lyft and Uber shift the expense of payroll taxes, overtime, and worker benefits to drivers. With lower operating costs and venture funding, they are able to offer transportation at a price that's often below what taxi companies can afford to charge.
The settlement provides drivers with greater protection against being removed from the Lyft platform. Lyft has agreed to alter its Terms of Service so that it can no longer deactivate driver accounts for any reason. Instead, it will enumerate specific infractions that may lead to termination.
It will also pay for driver arbitration costs in the event of a dispute, and implement a pre-arbitration process to resolve issues without entering into a more formal process.
What's more, the settlement calls for creating a way for passengers to "favorite" a driver, resulting in benefits of some sort. And Lyft has agreed to provide more passenger data to drivers before they have accepted ride requests.
The settlement, however, leaves issues of employment classification unresolved.
In April last year, US District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco rejected a proposed $12M settlement on the grounds that drivers might win more than 10 times that amount were a jury to determine Lyft's drivers should be designated employees.
In accepting the revised offer, Chhabria acknowledges that the compromise leaves issues unresolved. "The agreement is not perfect," he wrote in his order [PDF] approving the settlement on Thursday. "And the status of Lyft drivers under California law remains uncertain going forward. But the agreement falls within a range of reasonable outcomes, given the benefits it achieves for drivers and the risks involved in taking the case to trial.".
Lyft and Waymo have signed a deal to bring autonomous cars into mainstream use:
As the race to bring self-driving vehicles to the public intensifies, two of Silicon Valley's most prominent players are teaming up. Waymo, the self-driving car unit that operates under Google's parent company, has signed a deal with the ride-hailing start-up Lyft, according to two people familiar with the agreement who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The deal calls for the companies to work together to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream through pilot projects and product development efforts, these people said.
[...] The deal between Waymo and Lyft has competitive implications for Uber, the world's biggest ride-hailing company, which has recently had to confront a spate of workplace and legal problems. Lyft is a distant No. 2 to Uber among ride-hailing services in the United States, and the two companies are bitter rivals. Waymo is also competing fiercely with Uber in the creation of technology for autonomous cars and is embroiled in a lawsuit over what it says is Uber's use of stolen Waymo trade secrets to develop such technology.
Details about the deal between Waymo and Lyft were scant. The companies declined to comment on what types of products would be brought to market as a result of it or when the public might see the fruits of the collaboration.
Also at The Verge.
Previously: Uber and Lyft: Settlements, Racism, and Auto Partnerships
Google Waymo Vehicles to Hit the Road This Month
GM and Lyft to Test Thousands of Self-Driving Electric Cars in 2018
Google Spin-Off Waymo Accuses Uber of Stealing Self-Driving Tech
Lyft Pays $27M to Settle Driver Classification Suit
Uber Tracked Lyft Drivers
Uber Engineer Must Reveal Reason for Pleading the Fifth to Judge
Uber Could Face Injunction Stopping It From Testing Driverless Cars