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California Court Declines to Take Up Case Against Prop 22

California's Supreme Court has declined to hear a case against Proposition 22, a ballot initiative that allowed "gig economy" companies such as Uber and Lyft to treat their workers as independent contractors.

Proposition 22, a ballot initiative passed in California last November that defines app-based rideshare and delivery drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, won a legal victory last week after California’s Supreme Court decided not to move forward with the case. 

The lawsuit alleged that Prop 22 limits the Legislature’s ability to allow workers to advocate for better pay and working conditions, as well as illegally bars them from accessing the state workers’ compensation program.

The plaintiffs included three on-demand drivers and one passenger, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and SEIU California State Council. 

Castellanos v. State of California” was not thrown out by the court, Cathal Conneely, a public information officer for the Judicial Council of California, said in an email. Instead, the petition for writ of mandate was denied without prejudice, meaning it could be refiled in another court. 

“We are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear our case, but make no mistake: We are not deterred in our fight to win a livable wage and basic rights," said plaintiff and rideshare driver Hector Castellanos in the statement. "We will consider every option available to protect California workers from attempts by companies like Uber and Lyft to subvert our democracy and attack our rights in order to improve their bottom lines.”

A coalition supporting the proposition, including businesses, social justice groups, senior and community advocates and drivers, had a different opinion regarding the court's decision. Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for the coalition, said 120,000 rideshare drivers voted for Prop 22 in November.

“We’re thankful, but not surprised, that the California Supreme Court has rejected this meritless lawsuit,” Jim Pyatt, a driver for Uber, said in a statement. “We’re hopeful this will send a strong signal to special interests to stop trying to undermine the will of voters who overwhelmingly stood with drivers to pass Proposition 22.”

Katya Diaz is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.