Driver Rips Lyft's Arbitration Bid In DC Sick Leave Spat | D.C. Paid Sick Leave Rights

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Driver Rips Lyft's Arbitration Bid In DC Sick Leave Spat

Jul 16, 2020 / News Item / Law360 — Linda Chiem

A former Lyft driver told a D.C. federal court Tuesday that the ride-hailing company can't hide behind its arbitration agreement to dodge proposed class claims it's flouting D.C. law by failing to provide paid sick leave to drivers.

Plaintiff Cassandra Osvatics asked U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to reject Lyft Inc.'s motion to compel arbitration, saying in a Tuesday filing that the company can't escape judicial scrutiny of its systemic failure to provide sick leave to thousands of its drivers, as required by the D.C. Accrued Safe and Sick Leave Act.

The suit, filed in May, claims Lyft's refusal to offer paid sick leave to drivers during the global COVID-19 pandemic is jeopardizing public health and safety and leaving drivers vulnerable to exposure to the novel coronavirus.
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"Lyft largely turns a blind eye to these allegations, arguing instead that Section 1's interstate commerce exception applies only to the transportation of goods, not passengers, and the proper framework for analysis is 'all rideshare drivers' (not even all Lyft drivers) anywhere in the United States," Osvatics argued in Tuesday's brief.

"But this first proposed limitation is nowhere in the statutory language, contradicts the well-established understanding of 'commerce' both at the time the FAA was enacted and today, and was roundly rejected by the only appellate court to be squarely presented with the question," Osvatics said.
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"Lyft's TOS did not specify that D.C. law would apply in the absence of the FAA, and expressly declined to have California law apply to the arbitration clause," Osvatics said. "Lyft's omission is especially telling because Lyft had unilateral control over drafting the terms of its TOS and chose for only the FAA to apply."

On top of that, Lyft's arbitration agreement is self-defined as a "consumer" contract, which the RUAA specifically renders unenforceable and D.C. maintains a strong public policy that prevents the enforcement of mandatory adhesive contracts like Lyft's, especially when they contain a class waiver, according to the brief.
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