San Francisco subpoenas Uber, Lyft on driver classification

SAN FRANCISCO, May 29 (Reuters) - San Francisco's city attorney has subpoenaed Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc to turn over records relating to how the ride-hailing firms classify drivers, as well as driver wages, health care and other benefits in the latest probe in the city's year-long investigation into the companies.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said on Tuesday he was seeking evidence that Uber and Lyft are in compliance with a recent California Supreme Court decision that makes it much easier for workers to prove that they are employees entitled to benefits and protections, rather than independent contractors.

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Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick speaks to students during an interaction at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Mumbai, India, January 19, 2016.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick gestures as he addresses a gathering during a conference of start-up businesses in New Delhi, India, January 16, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Chief Executive Officer of Uber Travis Kalanick and Gabi Holzwarth arrive at the Google, HBO and the Smithsonian?s American Art Museum ?Celebration of Creativity? cocktail party to celebrate the White House Correspondents' Association dinner weekend in Washington, U.S., April 29, 2016.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick attends the summer World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China, June 26, 2016.

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India?s Minister of Law and Information and Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad shakes hands with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, December 15, 2016.

(REUTERS/Adnan Abidi)

Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Travis Kalanick works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters, a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons, a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco, California, December 10, 2014.

(REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Uber Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Travis Kalanick (2nd R) works with fourth graders during Cooking Matters, a nutrition class taught by 18 Reasons, a local partner of Share our Strength at Glen Park Elementary School in San Francisco, California, December 10, 2014.

(REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

Dieter Zetsche, chief executive officer of Daimler AG, left, and Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., listen before speaking during the Noah technology conference in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. The conference, one of the tech industry's premier events, was launched in 2009 and runs June 8-9.

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Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of US transportation company Uber Travis Kalanick at an event in New Delhi.

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Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama, left, speaks as Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., listens during the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) at Stanford University in Stanford, California, U.S., on Thursday, June 23, 2016. The annual event brings together entrepreneurs from around the world for 3 days of networking, workshops and conferences.

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Travis Kalanick, billionaire and chief executive officer of Uber Technologies Inc., looks on during the Noah technology conference in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. The conference, one of the tech industry's premier events, was launched in 2009 and runs June 8-9.

(Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Uber founder Travis Kalanick attends 'Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology', the 2016 Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2016 in New York, New York.

(Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)

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Experts say many companies, including Uber and Lyft, may soon have to raise pay or provide more benefits to workers due to the court decision last month, which adopted a new test for determining whether workers are employees. Companies that want to classify workers as independent contractors must now prove they are not under their direct control, do not perform a core function of their business and are engaged in an independent business.

Uber and Lyft drivers are classified as independent contractors, and they lack paid sick and vacation days and must pay their own expenses, such as car maintenance and gasoline.

"We don't know whether these ride-hailing companies are breaking the law until they provide the information we seek in these subpoenas," Herrera said. "We are going to ensure that these companies comply with the Supreme Court's ruling and with San Francisco's laws."

Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Heather Somerville Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio) 

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