California Opposes Stay in Clash Over DoorDash Delivery Driver Classification

On Monday, the State of California filed an opposition to DoorDash, Inc.’s motion to stay proceedings pending the resolution of a parallel case brought by private parties. California’s case, filed last summer, revolves around the defendant’s alleged misclassification of its drivers as independent contractors in violation of state labor law. California contended that stay is neither legally warranted nor harmless to California’s interests.

In its Dec. 21, 2020 motion to stay proceedings, DoorDash contended that the court should pause the case because the resolution of a parallel proceeding, brought under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) before another San Francisco Superior Court department, would bind California. The defendant also argued that because both cases’ allegations and claims for relief are similar, the court should exercise discretion in the name of judicial economy. In the PAGA action, DoorDash has agreed to settle for $88.5 million, its motion noted.

In addition, DoorDash argued that the passage of Proposition 22, a voter approved measure confirming certain gig economy workers’ status as independent contractors in California, supports its request for a stay. DoorDash asserted that because of its enactment, “whatever urgency Plaintiff may once have claimed in this suit has evaporated, as Plaintiff has acknowledged by withdrawing its motion for preliminary injunction.”

For California’s part, it called DoorDash’s request “an attempt to delay liability.” The state claimed that the two cases are distinct, as the present suit is a public law enforcement action rather than a private one to which it is not a party.

The plaintiff further argued that resolution of the PAGA action will not prohibit or terminate the instant proceeding. Additionally, the state contended that because DoorDash has yet to satisfy the “fact-intensive requirements of Prop 22,” it cannot use the measure to support its bid to delay the case.

Finally, California asserted that DoorDash has not presented a compelling reason for the initiation of a stay. By contrast, it argued, the harms wrought by misclassification “have been going on for years and they ‘are not mere abstractions; they represent real harms to real working people—consisting for instance of receiving low pay for long hours, having no overtime pay, breaks, health insurance, or sick leave, and being forced to pay business expenses.’” A stay would only exacerbate these difficulties, California contended.

A hearing on the motion to stay is scheduled for Feb. 3.

California is represented by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and DoorDash by Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.