San Diego City Attorney Candidate Cory Briggs on InstaCart injunction and AB 5

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The city of San Diego obtained a preliminary injunction Tuesday against grocery delivery company Instacart, in the wake of a judge’s ruling that the company misclassified its employees as independent contractors.

San Diego County Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor’s ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, who alleged Instacart was evading providing its “shoppers” with worker protections like minimum wage and overtime pay by classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees.

In the ruling, which was issued Feb. 18, but not formally served to the parties until this week, Taylor agreed with the City Attorney’s Office’s assertion that Instacart would not be able to show its workers should be classified as independent contractors.

The judge cited a state Supreme Court ruling in the case of Dynamex Operations West Inc. v Superior Court, which outlines an “ABC” test for determining whether a worker is an employee, a classification that applies if the person performs a core function of the business, is not free from its control, or is not engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business.

Taylor wrote that Instacart would likely be unable to satisfy any of the test’s three conditions.

The judge also wrote that the city’s litigation against Instacart was in line with other recent, related decisions, including the recent passage of AB 5, which gives greater labor protections to workers classified as employees.

City Attorney Mara W. Elliott said, “this landmark ruling makes clear that Instacart employees have been misclassified as independent contractors, resulting in their being denied worker protections to which they are entitled by state law.”

Attorney Cory Briggs is running to be San Diego’s next City Attorney, and he was in studio to talk about the InstaCart injunction, his thoughts on AB 5 and his campaign.

Briggs released this statement:

“Mara Elliott’s use of the City Attorney’s office to seek an injunction against Instacart is just another example of how she abuses her public office and wastes taxpayer money.

California already has an Attorney General and a Labor Commissioner to enforce state laws like Assembly Bill 5. Elliott’s lawsuit against Instacart drags the city – and its scarce resources – into a statewide political battle between the gig economy and labor unions.

Shouldn’t Elliott be focusing her prosecutorial resources on businesses that violate local laws, such as short-term vacation rentals? When she ran for office in 2016, she promised to prosecute STVRs because, as she concluded in a legal memo, they violate the city’s municipal code.

Mara Elliot’s misuse of the City Attorney’s office has already cost – and will continue to cost – millions of taxpayer dollars. The Instacart lawsuit’s timing raises her profile during an election season and effectively allows her to run otherwise routine announcements about her office’s activities into taxpayer-subsidized campaign ads.

It’s time for San Diegans to have a City Attorney dedicated to enforcing our laws and advocate on our behalf, without political bias or interference.” 

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Categories: California News, Good Evening San Diego, Local San Diego News, Politics