District Court Dismisses Chamber of Commerce Lawsuit Challenging Seattle Ordinance Permitting Collective Bargaining by Uber and Lyft Drivers

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington today dismissed Chamber of Commerce et al. v. City of Seattle et al., a United States Chamber of Commerce lawsuit challenging a Seattle ordinance that establishes a process for independent contractor drivers who contract with for-hire and taxicab transportation companies, including companies like Uber and Lyft, to collectively organize and negotiate with the transportation company over the terms and conditions of their contractual relationships.

The City adopted the new ordinance in January 2016, but delayed implementation while rules were developed.  The Chamber of Commerce filed suit in March 2017, asserting that Seattle’s ordinance was preempted by federal labor and antitrust law and various Washington laws.  The City moved to dismiss the Chamber’s complaint, and the District Court today granted the City’s motion.  The District Court concluded that the Chamber’s federal antitrust preemption theory failed because the ordinance was a valid exercise of Seattle’s delegated authority to regulate the for-hire and taxicab transportation industries and satisfied the requirement for “state action” antitrust immunity.  The District Court also rejected the Chamber’s National Labor Relations Act preemption theories, concluding that in excluding independent contractors from the NLRA, Congress had left the States free to regulate those workers’ labor relations.  Finally, the District Court concluded that the Chamber’s state law theories had no merit.

A preliminary injunction will remain in place while the ‎District Court considers the City’s motion to dismiss a related case asserting preemption and other theories.

Altshuler Berzon LLP, together with the Seattle City Attorney’s office, represents the City of Seattle in the litigation.