State Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Prop. 22 Independent Contractor Initiative

The California Supreme Court this week rejected an attempt to overturn Proposition 22, the voter-approved ballot initiative classifying app-based drivers as independent contractors.

A group of drivers and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) filed a petition with the state high court on January 12 seeking to invalidate Proposition 22 as unconstitutional.

California voters passed Proposition 22 in November 2020 by a 59% majority. The ballot measure classified app-based drivers for companies such as Uber, Lyft, Postmates, and DoorDash as independent contractors and mandated that those companies provide certain benefits, including guaranteeing at least 120% minimum wage during engaged time, payment per mile, health care coverage for those who work a certain number of hours, and the development of anti-harassment policies.

Challenge

The petitioners presented a myriad of arguments, including that voters were misled by Proposition 22’s title and that the ballot measure withdraws certain mandated employment benefits.

They also argued that the measure impermissibly removes the California Legislature’s authority with regards to establishing a workers’ compensation system, limits the California courts’ power to determine whether legislation constitutes an amendment to a statutory initiative, violates the California Constitution by embracing more than one subject in violation of the “single-subject rule,” and restricts the California Legislature’s ability to enact legislation by majority vote.

Court Decision

The Supreme Court denied the petition on February 3. The case docket provides that Justices Goodwin Liu and Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar voted to ask the state to submit a response, but were outnumbered.

The court rejected the petition “without prejudice to refiling in an appropriate court,” so it remains to be seen whether the plaintiffs will now try to file the legal challenge in one of California’s superior courts.

Staff Contact: Ashley Hoffman

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Ashley Hoffman
Ashley Hoffman joined the CalChamber in August 2020 as a policy advocate specializing in labor and employment and workers’ compensation issues. Before joining the CalChamber, she was an associate attorney in the Sacramento office of Jackson Lewis P.C., representing employers in civil litigation and administrative matters, as well as advising employers on best practices, including compliance with labor laws. She previously worked as a litigation associate and a summer associate at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, Los Angeles. She also was a law clerk at the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee in Memphis and a judicial extern for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena. Hoffman holds a B.A. with high honors in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and earned her J.D. from the UCLA School of Law, where she was a Michael T. Masin scholar, an editor at the UCLA Law Review, and staff member for the Women’s Law Journal.