Bulletins

A California judge ruled that Prop. 22 is unconstitutional

And the gig-economy fight continues.

A California judge ruled that Prop. 22 is unconstitutional

Gig workers held demonstrations to protest California's Prop. 22, which passed with 59% of the vote.

A California Superior Court judge found Proposition 22 unconstitutional in a Friday ruling. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch wrote that Prop. 22 violates the Constitution of California because it, among other things, "limits the power of a future legislature to define app-based drivers as workers subject to workers' compensation law."


The Service Employees International Union, the SEIU California State Council and a group of app-based drivers sued the state over Prop. 22 in January. The plaintiffs originally filed the suit in California's Supreme Court, which rejected a direct review, sending it back to a lower court before it can proceed.

Prop. 22, which passed in 2020 with 59% of the vote after major backing from Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, allowed transportation and delivery companies to classify their drivers as contractors, exempting them from having to provide them with employee benefits like health care, overtime pay and sick leave.

The lawsuit argued that Prop. 22 violates the state constituion, which gives the Legislature the power to "create and enforce a complete system of workers' compensation." Because Prop. 22 exempts workers who were once classified as employees from workers' comp, the law infringes upon the Legislature's power to create such a system, Roesch ruled Friday.

Additionally, Roesch ruled that Prop. 22 is unconstitutional because a section of it deals with collective bargaining rights, which is "utterly unrelated to (the law's) common purpose." Initiative statutes in California should only cover a single subject, Roesch wrote.

"A prohibition on legislation authorizing collective bargaining by app-based drivers does not promote the right to work as an independent contractor, nor does it protect work flexibility, nor does it provide minimum workplace safety and pay standards for those workers," Roesch wrote. "It appears only to protect the economic interests of the network companies in having a divided, un-unionized workforce, which is not a stated goal of the legislation."

The advocacy group Gig Workers Rising called Prop. 22 an "illegal corporate power grab" after the ruling. "Prop. 22 is not just harmful for gig workers — it is also dangerous for our democracy," Gig Workers Rising lead organizer Shona Clarkson said in a statement. "This fight is not over until all gig workers receive the living wages, benefits and voice on the job they have earned."

The Protect App-Based Drivers & Services Coalition said it would file an appeal that would keep Prop. 22 in effect until the end of the appeal process. "We believe the judge made a serious error by ignoring a century's worth of case law requiring the courts to guard the voters' right of initiative," PADS spokesman Geoff Vetter said in a statement. "This outrageous decision is an affront to the overwhelming majority of California voters who passed Prop. 22."

Protocol | Policy

Why Twitch’s 'hate raid' lawsuit isn’t just about Twitch

When is it OK for tech companies to unmask their anonymous users? And when should a violation of terms of service get someone sued?

The case Twitch is bringing against two hate raiders is hardly black and white.

Photo: Caspar Camille Rubin/Unsplash

It isn't hard to figure out who the bad guys are in Twitch's latest lawsuit against two of its users. On one side are two anonymous "hate raiders" who have been allegedly bombarding the gaming platform with abhorrent attacks on Black and LGBTQ+ users, using armies of bots to do it. On the other side is Twitch, a company that, for all the lumps it's taken for ignoring harassment on its platform, is finally standing up to protect its users against persistent violators whom it's been unable to stop any other way.

But the case Twitch is bringing against these hate raiders is hardly black and white. For starters, the plaintiff here isn't an aggrieved user suing another user for defamation on the platform. The plaintiff is the platform itself. Complicating matters more is the fact that, according to a spokesperson, at least part of Twitch's goal in the case is to "shed light on the identity of the individuals behind these attacks," raising complicated questions about when tech companies should be able to use the courts to unmask their own anonymous users and, just as critically, when they should be able to actually sue them for violating their speech policies.

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Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

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Protocol | Fintech

When COVID rocked the insurance market, this startup saw opportunity

Ethos has outraised and outmarketed the competition in selling life insurance directly online — but there's still an $887 billion industry to transform.

Life insurance has been slow to change.

Image: courtneyk/Getty Images

Peter Colis cited a striking statistic that he said led him to launch a life insurance startup: One in twenty children will lose a parent before they turn 15.

"No one ever thinks that will happen to them, but that's the statistics," the co-CEO and co-founder of Ethos told Protocol. "If it's a breadwinning parent, the majority of those families will go bankrupt immediately, within three months. Life insurance elegantly solves this problem."

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Protocol | Workplace

Remote work is here to stay. Here are the cybersecurity risks.

Phishing and ransomware are on the rise. Is your remote workforce prepared?

Before your company institutes work-from-home-forever plans, you need to ensure that your workforce is prepared to face the cybersecurity implications of long-term remote work.

Photo: Stefan Wermuth/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at mma@protocol.com.
Protocol | Enterprise

How GitHub COO Erica Brescia runs the coding gold mines

GitHub sits at the center of the world's software-development activity, which makes the Microsoft-owned code repository a major target for hackers and a trend-setter in open source software.

GitHub COO Erica Brescia

Photo: GitHub

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