Uber and Lyft drivers claim price-fixing in lawsuit against companies

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A group of drivers for Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc on Tuesday accused the companies of unfairly controlling how much passengers are charged for rides in an antitrust lawsuit in California state court.

The lawsuit seeking class action status in San Francisco Superior Court alleged violations of California antitrust law and the state’s law prohibiting unfair trade practices.

Drivers claimed that if they were able to offer lower prices to consumers, it would provide drivers with “the most competitive compensation”.

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“By preventing drivers from doing so, Uber and Lyft harm competition in both the labor market and the consumer market,” the complaint alleged. “Customers pay more and drivers earn less.”

A spokesperson for Uber said in a statement that “the complaint misconstrues both the facts and the applicable law and we intend to defend ourselves accordingly.”

A Lyft representative did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

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Uber and Lyft call their drivers independent contractors, not employees, the centerpiece of numerous legal challenges in recent years in state and federal courts across the country.

Driver plaintiffs in the new lawsuit argue that Uber and Lyft “deprive these drivers of economic independence” by setting the prices drivers must charge.

The drivers are represented by Denver-based Towards Justice and plaintiffs’ firm Edelson.

“For a decade, Uber and Lyft tried to have it both ways,” Rachel Dempsey of Towards Justice told Reuters. “They are trying to avoid the responsibilities of an employer, while maintaining a level of control over the transaction that is inconsistent with the idea that these drivers are independent contractors.”

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Drivers named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit previously opted out of arbitration agreements with Uber and Lyft, allowing them to challenge employment-related issues in court.

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