A class action lawsuit that will determine whether Uber drivers are independent contractors or employees starts June 20th, but San Francisco isn't waiting to reap fees from the fleet in the meantime. SFGate reports that the city is now requiring Uber and Lyft drivers to pay a $91 annual business registration fee if they earn $100,000 or less, and to retroactively pay the fee in years they worked but did not register.
SFGate reports that San Francisco treasurer Jose Cisneros has begun sending letters to more than 37,000 drivers in the city informing them of the new fee and requiring payment and registration within 30 days. Uber didn't flinch upon news of the requirement, telling SFGate that its drivers "are responsible for following appropriate local requirements." Several state governments across the US are considering bills, or have already passed bills, classifying ride-hail drivers as contractors; Uber has praised those bills, and is aggressively lobbying for similar legislation elsewhere.
"We have serious concerns"
Lyft took a different stance on San Francisco's new requirement. Lyft spokesperson Chelsea Wilson told SFGate that the company has "serious concerns with the city's plan to collect and display Lyft drivers' personal information in a publicly available database. People in San Francisco, who are choosing to drive with Lyft to help ends meet, shouldn't have to compromise their privacy in order to share a ride."
The $91 fee is yet another cost that ride-hail drivers are being asked to bear as contractors; so far, both Uber and Lyft have saved a substantial amount of money (an estimated $126 million in Lyft's case) by not having to provide their drivers with health insurance, overtime pay, and other expenses. Earlier this month a federal judge rejected a $12.25 million settlement offer from Lyft that would have compensated some drivers for costs, but would have spared it from having to classify them as employees.