Welcome back to human capital (formerly known as tech at work), which is all about working in technology. This week, Uber and Lyft launched a new labor lawsuit when a judge heard arguments from Uber, Lyft, and attorneys on behalf of the California people in a separate lawsuit from the California Attorney General. Meanwhile, Snap recently released its first report on diversity and inclusion – something the company had put off for years.
Below, we'll explore the nuances and meaning of these lawsuits, as well as Snap's success story with diversity and inclusion. Let us begin.
Ethan P. Schulman, a California Supreme Court Justice, heard arguments regarding an injunction to force Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as employees
In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, sued Uber and Lyft, who claim the companies have an unfair and unlawful competitive advantage by misclassifying workers as independent contractors. According to the lawsuit, Uber and Lyft are depriving workers of the right to minimum wages, overtime, access to paid sick leave, disability and unemployment insurance. In June plaintiffs filed an injunction to compel Uber and Lyft to comply with AB 5 and immediately stop classifying their drivers as independent contractors.
More than 100 people attended the injunction hearing this week. The hearing on Zoom could initially only accommodate 100 people. However, interest in the case forced the court to upgrade its webinar capabilities to 500. There hasn't been a decision yet, but Judge Schulman said we could expect a decision in days instead of weeks.
At the hearing, Schulman said how difficult it is to determine the implications of an injunction on this case. For example, it is unknown how Uber and Lyft would honor the injunction, as well as the economic impact on drivers, such as their ability to earn income, the hours they could work and their right to government benefits, Schulman said .
"I feel like I'm being asked to jump into a body of water without really knowing how deep it is, how cold the water is and what will happen when I get in," he said.
Here are some other key quotes from the hearing:
Rohit Singla, Lyft attorney
The proposed arrangement would cause irreparable harm to Lyft and Uber and would actually cause massive harm to drivers and harm to drivers.
Matthew Goldberg, Assistant City Attorney for San Francisco
We believe the parties have dramatically overestimated exactly what they would have to do to comply with the law.
The other lawsuits against Uber and Lyft
Start of the week, The California Labor Commission sued Uber and Lyft in separate suits. The aim of each suit is to get back the money that is supposed to be owed to these drivers. By classifying drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, Uber and Lyft did not have to pay a minimum wage or overtime pay, nor did they have to offer paid breaks or reimburse drivers for travel expenses.
What these lawsuits have in common is a key focus and argument that Uber and Lyft are misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors and breaking the law. These two companies have been sued many times for their labor practices, particularly as they concern the classification of their respective drivers as independent contractors. What's special about the recent litigation is that it comes into effect against the backdrop of a new law that went into effect in California earlier this year designed to make it harder for these gig economy companies to classify their workers that way. The lawsuits are also coming from the legislature and not from the drivers themselves.
This moment has been a long time coming. Uber faced its first high-profile labor lawsuit in 2013 when Douglas O’Connor and Thomas Colopy sued Uber for classifying them as 1,099 independent contractors. Uber closed the lawsuit a few years later in 2019 by paying out $ 20 million to O'Connor and Colopy and the rest of the class.
Snap eventually publishes a diversity report
After years of refusing to post diversity numbers, Snap finally decided it was time to make them public. Before we get started, let's take a quick look at the history of Snap with Diversity.
2016: Snap came under fire for some filters that many people have labeled as racist. The first was a Bob Marley filter that basically enabled some kind of digital black face. The second time it had to do with a lens that was supposed to be an attitude towards anime characters. Instead, There was an outcry over Snapchat that made Yellowface possible.
2017: “We firmly believe that a team with different backgrounds and voices is our best tool for developing innovative products that improve people's lives and communication. There are two things that we focus on in order to achieve this goal. The first – creating a diverse workplace – helps us put this team together. We come together for the conferences, host the hackathons and invest in institutions that bring us astonishingly diverse talent every year. The second – creating an inclusive workplace – is much more difficult to achieve, but we believe it requires unlocking the potential of a diverse team. We believe diversity is more than just numbers. For us, it's really about creating a culture where everyone comes to work and knows they have a place at the table and are always supported both personally and professionally. We started by asking our management team to set that tone with each of their teams every day, and investing in inclusive programs that range from public relations to internal professional development. We still have a long and difficult road to go in all of these efforts, but we believe that they represent one of our greatest opportunities to create a company that is not only successful but also proud to be a part of it. "- S-1 from Snap
2018: A former Snap engineer criticized the company for having a “toxic” and “sexist” culture. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel later said the letter was "a really good wake-up call for us".
2019: Snap hired its first diversity and inclusion leader, Oona King. King previously worked at Google as the company's Director of Diversity Strategy.
June 2020: In an all-hands meeting, the company reportedly said the company would not make its numbers public. Snap, however, denied the report, saying he would publish that data.
August 2020: Snap publishes its first diversity report, which shows only 32.9% women are employed worldwide, while the US employs 4.1% blacks, 6.8% Latin Americans and less than 1% indigenous people.
Snap's numbers aren't good, but they're nothing out of the ordinary for the tech industry either. What is new about Snap's report, however, is the breakdown of the cutting data. You will find that the representation of black women (1.3%) is less than the representation of black men (2.8%). The same applies to all race / ethnicity categories. There are more men than women across all races. This is also not good, but unfortunately to be expected.