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Wednesday
Aug102016

Uber and Lyft Driver’s Union Law in Seattle Could Still Be Challenged

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- Though a federal judge dismissed a challenge to Seattle’s law allowing unions for drivers employed by services like Uber and Lyft, he left the option open for another challenge at a later date.

On Tuesday, United States District Judge Robert Lasnik dismissed the lawsuit from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, of which Uber is a member, saying the organization did not have standing to bring the lawsuit and that it was too early to challenge the law since it hasn't gone into effect and the companies have not seen any consequences.

He dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, however. This means it is possible for the same lawsuit to be brought again at a later date and that no precedent has been set for the labor rights of workers in the so-called "gig economy."

“This dismissal doesn’t set a precedent either way,” Lee Adler, Lecturer in Employment Law at Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School, told ABC News.

“It’s just based on a technical definition of whether the Chamber of Commerce or any of its associate members had the legal right to bring this case at this time,” he said. “They are still vulnerable to challenge.”

Blair Holmes, a spokesperson for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement that the judge, "made clear at oral argument that he stands ready to hear a challenge to Seattle’s unprecedented ordinance in the future.”

Officials from the organization would not say whether they were planning to challenge the law again.

Uber is examining their legal options going forward, a company official told ABC News.

While Lyft was not party to the case, a company spokesperson told ABC News that they shared the concerns of the Chamber of Commerce.

Uber, like other companies, considers it's "Driver Partners" to be independent contractors, not regular employees. This classification has drawn other lawsuits around the country.

The unionization law, which was passed in December, made Seattle the first U.S. city to give drivers of on-demand ride services the right to unionize and collectively bargain on issues such as pay and working conditions, according to the Reuters news agency at the time.

Uber and Lyft, perhaps the two most well-known ride service companies, opposed the measure.

But it was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a federation representing more than 3 million businesses, that brought the lawsuit earlier this year challenging the law, on behalf of Uber and another company called Eastside for Hire -- both members of the federation.

“We're pleased the court agreed with us that the lawsuit was premature and dismissed it,” a spokesperson for the Seattle City Attorney, John Schochet, told ABC News.

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