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Uber and Lyft Must Classify Their CA Drivers as Employees. Here’s How That Could Change Ride-Sharing Apps.

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  • A California judge ruled Monday that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees, not gig workers.
  • That decision, which will go into effect next week if it is not halted by an appeal, means that employees for ride-sharing companies will be eligible to receive benefits, including health insurance, paid time off, sick leave, and overtime.
  • Both Uber and Lyft have argued that the decision will cause ride costs to increase significantly and could result in mass layoffs. 
  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has proposed a third model that would establish a benefits fund, but under it, drivers would still likely not be able to see full benefits guaranteed under an employee status.

Judge Rules in Favor of California

A California judge has ruled that drivers for Uber and Lyft in the state must be reclassified as employees rather than gig workers. 

Notably, that ruling means drivers will be afforded the same protections and benefits as the companies’ other full-time employees. For example, as full-time employees, drivers could be eligible for benefits like health insurance, overtime, paid sick leave, vacation time, and more. It’s also possible that Uber and Lyft would have to pay them personal vehicle mileage. 

Gig workers, also known as contract or independent workers, don’t see those benefits. 

The decision, which came from San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman on Monday, isn’t scheduled to take effect until next week. Uber and Lyft have also promised to appeal the ruling and block it from even going into effect.

For their part, both companies have argued that their businesses are in technology (meaning the apps themselves), not ride-sharing. They also claim that the majority of their drivers prefer being independent and deciding when they work, an aspect that likely would be harder to retain if drivers were treated as employees.

In his ruling, Schulman said both companies used “circular reasoning” by treating only their tech workers as employees, saying that reasoning “flies in the face of economic reality and common sense,”

“It bears emphasis that these harms are not mere abstractions; they represent real harms to real working people,” Schulman said regarding the current lack of benefits for drivers. “To state the obvious, drivers are central, not tangential, to Uber and Lyft’s entire ride-hailing business.”

Still, Schulman noted that for these companies, such a change in reclassification might “have an adverse effect on some of their drivers, many of whom desire the flexibility to continue working as they have in the past.”

California Sues Uber and Lyft

Last year, California passed Assembly Bill 5, a bill that requires companies to treat their workers as employees if those companies control how workers perform tasks or if their work is a routine part of the company’s business.

Specifically, AB5 was designed to target companies like Uber and Lyft. In fact, the state has argued that because these companies deal in ride-sharing, their drivers are essential to business. Therefore, they should be treated as employees. 

Still, after this law went into effect at the beginning of the year, Uber and Lyft refused to adhere to it. 

In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit against the companies for their refusal. Chiefly, that lawsuit seeks “restitution for workers, a permanent halt to the unlawful misclassification of drivers, and civil penalties that could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.” 

Both companies—along with DoorDash—have pumped $110 million into a campaign to exempt them from the law. Because of those efforts, in November, California voters will decide on a ballot measure that could keep ride-sharing companies from having to convert their drivers into employees.

Why Uber and Lyft Are Fighting This Ruling

Uber and Lyft had argued for Schulman’s ruling to be stayed until the November ballot, but Schulman denied that request.

“The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law,” Uber spokesperson Matt Kallman said following the decision. “When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression.”

Also Monday, Lyft released a similar statement saying that drivers don’t want to be employees, “full stop.” 

The debate around how to address these companies’ drivers is not a black and white argument. Many people drive for Uber or Lyft on the weekends for a little extra money. Some retired individuals also drive on for these companies on the side. 

But for many drivers, this may be their only job. For example, they may be currently unable to find another job. Such a situation is especially true as the United States continues to struggle with the COVID-19 pandemic, where a driver may have lost their main job and could now rely on Uber or Lyft as a main source of income.

“Today’s ruling affirms what California drivers have long known to be true: workers like me have rights and Uber and Lyft must respect those rights,” Lyft driver Mike Robinson said in a statement following Monday’s decision.

It’s also important to keep in mind that companies like Uber and Lyft were already struggling to turn a profit, and now, that’s even worse because of the coronavirus. Just between April and June, Uber’s bookings were reportedly nosedived 75%.

The prospect of having to change their business models could result in layoffs of drivers. It would likely also mean substantially higher costs for passengers. 

A Potential Third Option

In the end, the decision from Schulman likely won’t stop with California. In fact, it could be the beginning of massive changes to ride-sharing companies across the U.S. 

In a March letter to President Donald Trump, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi advocated for a third model on how to classify drivers. Particularly, Khosrowshahi argued that workers should be offered another way to gain protections without sacrificing the flexibility of being a gig worker. 

Just hours before Schulman’s decision on Monday, Khosrowshahi outlined more details of that plan in an op-ed published by The New York Times.

“Our current employment system is outdated and unfair,” he said. “It forces every worker to choose between being an employee with more benefits but less flexibility or an independent contractor with more flexibility but almost no safety net.”

“It’s time to move beyond this false choice. As a start, all gig economy companies need to pay for benefits, should be more honest about the reality of the work, and must strengthen the rights and voice of workers.”

Khosrowshahi then proposed a model that would require gig companies “to establish benefits funds which give workers cash that they can use for the benefits they want, like health insurance or paid time off.”

“Independent workers in any state that passes this law could take money out for every hour of work they put in,” he added. “All gig companies would be required to participate, so that workers can build up benefits even if they switch between apps.”

Khosrowshahi claimed that if this had been the law nationwide, Uber would have contributed $655 million in benefits last year. To further his point, he used an example of a Colorado driver working an average of 35 hours a week last year. Under Khosrowshahi’s system, that driver would have racked up $1,350 in benefits for 2019. As Khosrowshahi noted, that’s enough to cover two-weeks time off or a median annual premium for health insurance.

But the key here is “or.” Unlike a full-time employee, this driver would need to make a decision on how to spend that accrued benefit money as they would likely not be able to choose both options.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (NPR) (Reuters)

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Durte Dom Responds to Rape Allegation

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  • Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, AKA Durte Dom, responded to allegations that he raped a girl in 2018 who was too drunk to consent to sexual activity.
  • He wrote on his Instagram story that he wants to “sincerely apologize directly to the women involved in this incident,” but as far as he is concerned, everything that happened “was completely consensual.”
  • He added that the statements being made about him “unfairly” defame his character and that he is donating “thousands of dollars” to women’s charities.

Durte Dom Responds

Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, AKA Durte Dom, responded to allegations that he raped a woman who was too drunk to consent to sexual activity in 2018 and claimed that in his eyes, everything was “completely consensual.”

The accusation against Zeglaitis came to light in March after Insider reported that it had spoken to the victim who had appeared in a Vlog Squad video with her friends the night she was allegedly raped. She also claimed that members of the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol, as they were under 21 at the time. 

Zeglaitis did not give a comment to Insider, and in the month following the report, he went dormant on social media. Last week, he returned to TikTok, posting content as-usual despite pressure in the comments section to speak about the allegation. 

Over the weekend, he issued a response on his Instagram story. His account is currently set to private, so only people who follow Zeglaitis could see the post. 

“I want to sincerely apologize directly to the women involved in this incident,” he wrote. “I definitely empathize with the pain that everyone has suffered in this matter.”

“With that being said, as far as I am concerned, everything that occurred during the night in question was completely consensual,” he continued. “I believe the statements that have come out against me are entirely misleading and shed an incorrect light on my involvement.” 

“My character is being unfairly attacked and the statements that exist in the public eye are unfairly defaming and assaulting my character and reputation.”

Zegliatis claimed that since the Insider report came out, he has donated “thousands of dollars” to womens’ rights charities to show his “support for the unjustified and unnecessary struggles that women endure in our society on a daily basis.”

“It is time for all of us to demonstrate more respect for one another in every facet of life,” he added.

Responses to Statement

His response was not received well by numerous people on social media, who were frustrated that he did not take responsibility for his alleged actions. Many were also upset that the post was primarily about himself and did not reflect on the situation, consent, or any of his past behavior. 

“Not consensual if the girl is blacked out,” YouTuber Trisha Paytas wrote. 

The allegation against Zeglaitis, as well as other claims about a general culture of toxicity within the Vlog Squad, have taken the creator world by storm. The group’s frontman and one of YouTube’s biggest stars, David Dobrik, has issued multiple apologies about the incident. 

Dobrik has also lost major brand deals and stepped away from Dispo, a social media app he co-founded. He is currently taking a break from social media to rethink the way the production of his content is structured. He also said he has distanced himself from Zegalitis. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Dexerto) (SportsKeeda)

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Jake Paul Denies Sexual Assault Allegations

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  • YouTuber Jake Paul is denying allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise in the summer of 2019.
  • Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” Paul wrote in a statement Tuesday.
  • He added that he plans on pursuing a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”
  • Paradise, who posted a 20-minute video Friday accusing him of assault, has rejected claims that she lied for attention and said all she wants is an apology.

Jake Paul Denies Allegation

YouTuber Jake Paul denied allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise and said he will pursue legal action against her.

Paradise posted a 20-minute video on Friday claiming that Paul sexually assaulted her in the summer of 2019. She said Paul brought her to his room, where they began kissing, but claimed that she signaled she was uninterested in going any further. She alleged Paul then said, “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?” before unzipping his pants and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.

“He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him,” she said in her video. “Like I couldn’t even tell him not to…He didn’t ask for consent or anything.”

Paul first denied the allegation on Tuesday in a statement via his attorney, Daniel E. Gardenswartz.

“While others have already begun to debunk the claim alleged against him, our client categorically denies the allegation and has every intention of aggressively disproving it and pursuing legal action against those responsible for the defamation of his character,” Gardenswartz said.

“Our client believes that any false allegations diminish the credibility of those who have truly been victims of misconduct.”

Paul Accuses Justine Paradise of Seeking Attention, Financial Gains

Paul then shared a statement of his own on Twitter, where he again denied the claim and said he takes the topic of sexual assault seriously.

“Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” he wrote, referencing his upcoming match against UFC star Ben Askren.

“This individual is directly using the attention from her social media posts and video to promote her adult content website and Amazon shopping list,” Paul continued. He added that he plans to pursue a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”

“At the time of her story I was in a relationship, and as someone who was a momma’s boy growing up, I respect women and mothers more than anything. I most certainly have never laid a finger on a girl without their consent.”

“I will fight this to the end to prove my innocence,” he wrote

Paradise Responds

Paradise responded to his statement on her Instagram story. She specifically criticized Paul for accusing her of lying in order to get gifts and other financial gains. 

“I wasn’t even aware that I still had an Amazon wishlist,” she wrote. “I just checked and there were literally six items on it.”

“I am not looking for gifts or money,” she continued. “I made it very clear that all I wanted from him was an apology. And for him to stop doing this to people.”

She also claimed that since posting her video, a minor came forward to her and shared a similar experience with Paul. She provided no further details about that interaction but encouraged other women to speak to her if they had also been assaulted or harassed by Paul.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (The Washington Post)

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Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault By TikToker Justine Paradise

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  • In a YouTube video shared Friday, TikToker Justine Paradise accused massive social media star Jake Paul of sexually assaulting her in July 2019.
  • She claimed he brought her to his bedroom while she was visiting his home and forced her to perform oral sex on him after she expressed that she did not want to engage in sexual activity.
  • Paul has not issued any statements about the allegations or responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment.

Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault

YouTuber Jake Paul has been accused of sexually assaulting TikToker Justine Paradise during the summer of 2019. 

Paradise posted a 20-minute YouTube video on Friday detailing her accusation. Paul has not yet responded in a public statement to her claims, and his team has not responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment. 

Paradise claimed she met Paul in 2019 after a mutual friend, identified in the video by the pseudonym Michael, invited her to hang out one day. He sent her an address to go to, and when Paradise got there, she was surprised to learn it was the Team 10 House, the mansion Paul purchased for his social media collective. She claimed that when she got there, she had to sign an NDA and have her photo taken.

She said that during her first visit to the house, she and Paul barely interacted but he still asked for her number before she left. She claimed that she and Paul would sometimes text each other and she ended up going back to the house a handful of times over the course of the summer to hang out. 

She stated that on her other visits, she still barely spoke to Paul even though he would text her from across the room or other parts of the house. She described this as “awkward” but thought Paul might not know how to initiate conversation with girls because she saw so many constantly flocking towards him. 

Their dynamic allegedly changed one day when, according to Paradise, Paul grabbed her and kissed her. She said she was okay with this, though she felt slightly uncomfortable that he did so in front of a room full of people. On a separate occasion, though, Paradise claimed he crossed the line.

Paradise alleged that on the night between July 19 and July 20, she and others were hanging out at the house when Paul grabbed her hand and started walking around with her, which she thought was “cute.” She said he then took her to his room, but she did not necessarily view this as something that inherently meant they would have sexual relations. 

“People have brought me to their rooms before and I’m their friend and they’re literally just trying to show me their room,” she explained in her video. “Or they just want to talk to me away from the crowd of people. Or sometimes they are trying to do something sexual but if I say no, they respect it.” 

Details of Allegation

She said that they first were chatting, then started dancing, and then started kissing before he moved things to his bed. She stated that she wanted to just keep it at kissing and thought he would understand. 

“Normally, everybody respects me when I don’t want to do sexual things, so I thought it was fine if I went in his room and I thought it would be fine to kiss him because I thought he would stop if I didn’t want to do anything else,” she said. 

She claimed Paul would place his hands on her body, or move her hands onto his, but that she rejected those advances by moving their hands off of each other. She also alleged that Paul likely knew her refusal to touch him was a signal that she did not to go any further, as she claimed he responded by saying “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?”

“What’s the point?” she continued, “I don’t know? I don’t know, maybe I can be one of your friends. Maybe I can just be someone that you kiss.” 

Paradise said she was shocked by his response as no one had ever responded to her that way before, so she felt incredibly uncomfortable, but she claimed that Paul’s actions did not stop there. 

“This is the point where, if what he wanted was sex, he sees he’s not going to get it, this is the point where we would just go elsewhere, go back downstairs where everyone is,” she said.

Instead, however, Paradise claimed that Paul stood up, undid his pants, and forced her to perform oral sex. She explained that she felt especially violated because she views oral sex as incredibly intimate and has only done it with two or three other people, but she did not know how to make him stop.

“What am I supposed to do? He was literally…I was still laying down,” she said. “He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him. Like I couldn’t even tell him not to.”

“He didn’t ask for consent or anything,” she continued. “Like he knew I didn’t want to do anything with him because he said ‘If nothing’s going to happen what’s the point?’ And then he just shoves himself in me.” 

Aftermath of Alleged Assault

Paradise said the assault did not last very long, but she was left feeling confused in the immediate aftermath. She claimed that once it was over, he insisted that they needed to leave his room and go to the studio in the house, where everyone else was hanging out. She added that he got frustrated and slightly aggressive when she said she wanted to take time to collect herself and fix her hair before other people saw her. She described this as a big change in personality for Paul, because he had apparently been very friendly with her before this incident. 

Paradise claimed that once she rejoined the crowd, she told her friend Michael about what happened. He called the situation “horrible” and stated he would talk to Paul himself. She claimed she ended up spending the rest of the night at the Team 10 House and provided Snapchats of herself with a puffy face from crying with a location tag in Calabasas as evidence. She also shared other pictures she took at the house and other text messages allegedly exchanged between her and Paul. 

She said that Paul never contacted her again after this night, even though she attempted to reach out to him to talk about what happened. She added that she was unsure if her friend Michael reached out to Paul, but if he ever did, Paul never apologized. 

“Honestly, I don’t think it was anything significant to him,” she explained in the video. “Like I said there was a different girl with him every day, I don’t even know if he would remember me.” 

Paradise claimed she has thought about this incident nearly every day since it happened. Her intent in posting the video was to reach out to Paul so he can learn about what he did to her and how it made her feel. She also asserted that she feels a lot of men do not change their bad behavior unless they are called out publicly. 

Paradise said she wants her video to serve as a warning to other girls who might find themselves in a similar situation. She addressed the fact that some people may not believe her and accuse her of doing this for clout, but insisted she just wants to tell what she feels is an important story. 

“Am I doing this for attention? Yeah, I do want attention on this,” she explained. “Because it’s a problem that’s real and deserves attention.” 

Responses

On Friday, her video became a popular topic of discussion on Twitter. Many pulled up TikToks she had previously posted, including one where she mentioned a YouTuber assaulting her and having to sign an NDA. Some also shared an update to that video, where Paradise claimed she was talking to a reporter about the situation. 

Other major creators, including YouTuber Trisha Paytas, uploaded Paradise and other survivors for speaking out, and urged people to take the accusations seriously.

“I’m glad victims are comfortable speaking up more and more,” she wrote. “This disgusting behavior should be put on blast – predators, rapists need appropriate punishments and not just “being cancelled” temporarily and back on a pedestal the next month.”

For his part, Paul has been posting his usual content on social media to promote his upcoming fight. Many people are urging him to respond to the accusations. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Daily Dot) (Unilad)

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