(Reuters) - Former Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc drivers in Austin, Texas, on Thursday accused the ride-hailing companies of breaking a federal law by abruptly halting operations in the city after voters backed a measure requiring them to fingerprint drivers.
The lawsuits filed in federal court in San Francisco, where the companies are based, said Uber and Lyft violated a law that requires companies to give 60 days notice to employees before a "mass layoff."
Uber spokesman Matt Kallman declined to comment. Lyft did not respond to a request for comment.
The companies suspended services in Austin on May 9, two days after residents voted to keep the city's law requiring Uber and Lyft, just like taxi companies, to conduct fingerprint-based background checks of their drivers. About 10,000 Uber and Lyft drivers lost their jobs, Uber said at the time.
The companies consider drivers to be independent contractors, and Thursday's lawsuits are the latest to claim they are actually employees under various federal and state laws because of the degree of control Uber and Lyft exert.
See images related to Uber and Lyft:
Drivers sue Uber, Lyft over exit from Austin, Texas
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 27: A general view at the Lyft driver rally at Siren Studios on January 27, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Sciulli/Getty Images for Lyft)
FILE - In this Jan. 4, 2013 file photo, Lyft passenger Christina Shatzen gets into a car driven by Nancy Tcheou, in San Francisco. Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies may soon be able to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport after debate over whether their drivers are properly screened to weed out criminals. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
The Lyft Inc. logo and application (app) is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s and MacBook Air for an arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Lyft Inc. is taking its ride-sharing service into New York this week and is abandoning its trademark pink mustaches in the process, taking on rival Uber Technologies Inc. in one of the biggest U.S. markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The Lyft Inc. application (app) is demonstrated on an Apple Inc. iPhone 5s during a Lyft ride for an arranged photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Lyft Inc. is taking its ride-sharing service into New York this week and is abandoning its trademark pink mustaches in the process, taking on rival Uber Technologies Inc. in one of the biggest U.S. markets. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 12: A Lyft car drives along Powell Street on June 12, 2014 in San Francisco, California. The California Public Utilities Commission is cracking down on ride sharing companies like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar by issuing a warning that they could lose their ability to operate within the state if they are caught dropping off or picking up passengers at airports in California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Dec. 16, 2014, file photo a man leaves the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing companies may soon be able to pick up passengers at Los Angeles International Airport after debate over whether their drivers are properly screened to weed out criminals. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
Uber driver Karim Amrani sits in his car parked near the San Francisco International Airport parking area in San Francisco, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. In the three months ended in June, Uber overtook taxis as the most expensed form of ground transportation, according to expense management system provider Certify. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
Map locates countries where Uber operates; 2c x 2 1/2 inches; 96.3 mm x 63 mm;
FILE - In this Wednesday, March 18, 2015 file photo, on a cell phone in New York, the Uber app displays cars available for a pick up at 100 Centre St., a few blocks from City Hall. A deal has been struck between New York City and Uber on the eve of a highly watched City Council vote that could have placed a cap on the number of the ride-hailing company's cars on the streets of the nation's largest city. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, file)
The photograph of UberPOP driver Anthony Loussala-Dubreas, 24, of Paris, is seen on his UberPOP application on his smartphone in his car in Paris, Friday, Dec. 12, 2014. A French court on Friday ordered Uber to withdraw from its mobile app to French users "all mention suggesting it is legal" for Uber's drivers to act like taxis â that is, driving around and waiting for clients. But the court did not ban the popular ride-hailing service. (AP Photo/Bastien Inzaurralde)
In this April 3, 2014 photo, a smartphone is mounted on the glass of an Uber car in Mumbai, India. Riding on its startup success and flush with fresh capital, taxi-hailing smartphone app Uber is making a big push into Asia. The company has in the last year started operating in 18 cities in Asia and the South Pacific including Seoul, Shanghai, Bangkok, Hong Kong and five Indian cities. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
They appeared to be the first cases against the companies brought under the 1988 Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, which was designed to give workers time to adjust to the loss of employment.
Companies that violate the law, which includes an exception for "unforeseeable business circumstances," are on the hook for wages and benefits workers would have earned during the 60-day notice period.
The lawsuits said the named plaintiffs, who are seeking to represent classes of Uber and Lyft drivers from Austin, have been unable to make up for the loss of income.
Drivers around the country have sued Uber and Lyft claiming the companies misclassified them as independent contractors and deprived them of overtime pay, tips, reimbursements and certain employment protections.
In April, Uber agreed to pay up to $100 million to 350,000 drivers in California and Massachusetts to settle claims that it owed them reimbursement for gas and mileage and withheld tips.
Lyft has proposed a $27 million settlement of a similar case involving California drivers. Federal judges in San Francisco last week held hearings to consider both settlements.
The cases in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California are Johnston v. Uber Technologies Inc, No. 3:16-cv-03134, and Thornton v. Lyft Inc, No. 3:16-cv-03135.