US: FTC and Uber join forces to stop new Seattle law

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is siding with Uber Technologies in a fight to block a Seattle law that would allow ride-hailing drivers to collectively bargain.

In an amicus brief, the FTC and the US Justice Department told the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that a federal trial judge’s ruling that upheld the law threatened to “open the antitrust exemption door for nearly any type of regulation.”

Such an outcome “would effectively put a large swath of plainly anti-competitive conduct out of reach of the antitrust laws, seriously undermining the public interest in fostering competition,” the government lawyers wrote in their jointly filed brief.

The government’s lawyers said that they are only challenging the district court’s interpretation of the so-called “state action doctrine” and not taking a position on whether ride-hailing drivers are employees or independent contractors under federal labor law. That issue is playing out in cases that confront worker protections in the gig economy.

The FTC’s brief made allies of past adversaries. The agency has hit Uber with several complaints in recent years. In January the San Francisco-based company paid US$20 million to settle claims that it misled drivers about how much money they could make and car-financing details. In the Seattle case, though, the agency is on Uber’s side—for the first time. FTC spokeswoman Betsy Lordan said no one at the agency was aware of filing an amicus brief in any other Uber-related litigation.

Full Content: The Federal Trade Commission

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