In an antitrust lawsuit filed in California state court on Tuesday, a group of Uber (UBER) and Lyft (LYFT) drivers accused the companies of unfairly controlling how much passengers pay for rides.
The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, sought class-action status, alleging violations of California antitrust law and state law prohibiting unfair business practices.
The drivers claimed that if they could offer lower prices to consumers, it would provide them with “the most competitive compensation.”
“By preventing drivers from doing so, Uber and Lyft harm competition in both the labor market as well as the consumer market,” the complaint alleged. “Customers pay more, and drivers earn less.”
An Uber spokesperson said in a statement that the “complaint misconstrues both the facts and the applicable law and we intend to defend ourselves accordingly.”
A representative from Lyft did not immediately respond
Uber and Lyft label their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, which has been the focus of numerous legal challenges in state and federal courts across the country in recent years.
According to the plaintiff drivers in the new lawsuit, Uber and Lyft “deprive those drivers of economic independence” by dictating the prices they must charge.
The drivers are represented by Towards Justice of Denver and the Edelson plaintiffs’ firm.
“For a decade, Uber and Lyft have tried to have it both ways,” Towards Justice’s Rachel Dempsey told Reuters. “They’re attempting to avoid the obligations of an employer while also maintaining a level of control over the transaction that contradicts the idea that these drivers are independent contractors.”
The drivers named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit previously opted out of arbitration agreements with Uber and Lyft, allowing them to contest employment-related matters in court.