Texas lawsuit seeks to overturn Austin's Uber fingerprint rule

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Uber,Lyft leaving Austin over fingerprint vote

AUSTIN, Texas, June 17 (Reuters) - An Austin City Council member who is a supporter of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft has filed a lawsuit to overturn a requirement for their drivers to undergo fingerprint criminal background checks approved in a May municipal vote.

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Donald Zimmerman filed the suit against the mayor on Thursday in a Texas district court seeking to overturn the May 7 ballot initiative, arguing its language was confusing, unlawful and did not provide enough information about fingerprint criminal background checks for drivers.

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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)
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The two companies campaigned against the requirement, which they said was an unnecessary and costly barrier to entry for new drivers. They said their own background checks are comprehensive and ensure safety.

Uber and Lyft spent more than $9 million in their failed attempt to defeat fingerprint requirements in Austin's May 7 vote, making it the most expensive political campaign in the city's history.

The two companies halted service in Austin shortly after the vote, putting about 10,000 of their drivers out of work.

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The Texas Supreme Court in March denied a motion to halt the Austin election brought by a plaintiff who argued the ballot language was confusing and unlawful. The mayor's office has said it stands by the ballot language.

Former Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc drivers in Austin filed lawsuits this month in federal court in San Francisco, accusing the ride-hailing companies of breaking a federal law by abruptly halting operations in the city.

Many former Uber and Lyft drivers have since joined start-up, ride-hailing firms currently operating in the city. (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrew Hay)


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