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Ninth Circuit Resurrects Rideshare Driver Union Lawsuit

By George Khoury, Esq. on May 16, 2018 11:58 AM

In a peculiar twist of events, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled in favor Uber, Lyft and other rideshare services' challenge to a Seattle law that would allow the drivers to unionize.

In short, the appellate court found merit to the challengers' argument that allowing the unionization could violate the Sherman Antitrust Act. The case made its way up to the Ninth Circuit after the federal district court in Seattle dismissed the challenge.

Shared Union Busting

Notably, the Seattle law, passed in 2015, provides a framework by which rideshare drivers can join unions and leverage collective bargaining for better pay. Unfortunately, the law has been put on hold. However, as expected, the rideshare industry doesn't want this to happen as the companies are already operating at a loss and don't need drivers, ahem, driving up their costs.

However, the rideshare companies may have long battle ahead of them. The Ninth Circuit only revived the challenge as to the Sherman Act, and affirmed that the NLRA claims were properly dismissed by the lower court. There's still a lot left to litigate here.

Currently unknown is whether either side of this appeal will request a rehearing en banc as this decision was issued from a three-judge panel.

The city of Seattle is pleased with the part of the holding that says the law isn't preempted by the NLRA, but is "obviously disappointed" that the antitrust claim was revived. The city attorney's office is considering its next step, which, as one legal expert suggested, could include writing a new law based on this opinion that would thread the eye of the antitrust needle.

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