D.C. taxi drivers sue D.C. over Uber legislation

D.C. taxi drivers sue D.C. over Uber legislation

By Luz Lazo, Washington Post, May 22

Six D.C. cabdrivers are suing the District over a recently enacted law that legalized app-based car services such as Uber.

The complaint, filed Friday in U.S. District Court, claims that the legislation gives a competitive advantage to companies such as Uber, Lyft and Sidecar over taxicab services, and “creates an irrational, two-tiered regulatory system that unconstitutionally harms the economic and property interests of the Taxicab Service Plaintiffs and similarly situated taxicab permit holders.”

While both the traditional taxicab services and the rideshare services “provide identical services in all material effects,” the complaint said, the rules and requirements for rideshare operators “are significantly less burdensome, restrictive, and expensive.”

The D.C. Council passed legislation last fall that sets new governing rules for ridesharing. It authorizes the use of private vehicles for public transportation, provided that the rides are summoned only through an app or via electronic means. The law requires rideshare drivers to be at least 21 and pass a criminal background check, sex offender database check, and driving history check. It also mandates minimum levels of insurance coverage.

D.C. cabdrivers and taxi companies have criticized the legislation as unfair because they say the drivers for uberX, Lyft and Sidecar don’t have to meet the same licensing requirements, regulations, restrictions and costs as regular cabdrivers. The legislation prompted hundreds of taxi drivers to protest the council’s action.

Now, they say they are taking their fight to court. The lawsuit was filed by six taxi drivers and the Metro Area Taxi Operators Association, affiliated with the Teamsters Local 922, which represents more than 2,000 D.C. area taxi drivers.

“I work hard and I have never in my life asked for special treatment. So why should ride service companies get special rules and deals handed to them by the D.C. Council? It’s not fair and it’s not right,” said Eartha Clark, one of plaintiffs.

Royale Simms, a leader with the Teamsters Local 922, said the taxi drivers’ concerns about the legislation were ignored.

“They were not respected; their concerns were not acknowledged; and instead, the Council rigged the game in favor of Uber, Lyft and Sidecar,” he said “We will continue to fight and speak up until justice is won.”

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