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California: Gig Workers, Prop. 22, and Jurisdiction

October 24, 2022 (3 min read)

Here’s an interesting gig worker case in which Lyft is claiming no jurisdiction under Prop. 22 in the context of subpoena duces tecum for records. Check out how the Board Panel ruled in this case.


Copyright 2022 by Matthew Bender & Company, Inc.

Gisela Murguia, Applicant v. Lyft, Inc., Blue Star Claims Management Phoenix, Defendants

W.C.A.B. No. ADJ15999271—WCJ Dean M. Stringfellow (VNO); WCAB Panel: Commissioners Razo, Sweeney, Deputy Commissioner Schmitz

Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (Board Panel Decision)

Opinion Filed October 13, 2022

Publication Status:  CAUTION:  This decision has not been designated as a “significant panel decision” by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. Practitioners should proceed with caution when citing to this panel decision and should also verify the subsequent history of the decision, as these decisions are subject to appeal. WCAB panel decisions are citeable authority, particularly on issues of contemporaneous administrative construction of statutory language [see Griffith v. WCAB (1989) 209 Cal. App. 3d 1260, 1264, fn. 2, 54 Cal. Comp. Cases 145]. However, WCAB panel decisions are not binding precedent, as are en banc decisions, on all other Appeals Board panels and workers’ compensation judges [see Gee v. Workers’ Comp. Appeals Bd. (2002) 96 Cal. App. 4th 1418, 1425 fn. 6, 67 Cal. Comp. Cases 236]. While WCAB panel decisions are not binding, the WCAB will consider these decisions to the extent that it finds their reasoning persuasive [see Guitron v. Santa Fe Extruders (2011) 76 Cal. Comp. Cases 228, fn. 7 (Appeals Board En Banc Opinion)].  LexisNexis editorial consultants have deemed this panel decision noteworthy because it does one or more of the following: (1) Establishes a new rule of law, applies an existing rule to a set of facts significantly different from those stated in other decisions, or modifies, or criticizes with reasons given, an existing rule; (2) Resolves or creates an apparent conflict in the law; (3) Involves a legal issue of continuing public interest; (4) Makes a significant contribution to legal literature by reviewing either the development of workers’ compensation law or the legislative, regulatory, or judicial history of a constitution, statute, regulation, or other written law; and/or (5) Makes a contribution to the body of law available to attorneys, claims personnel, judges, the Board, and others seeking to understand the workers’ compensation law of California.

Disposition: The Petition for Removal is denied.

WCAB Jurisdiction—Gig Workers—Discovery Orders—WCAB, denying removal, affirmed WCJ’s “meet and confer” order issued in response to defendant’s objection to applicant’s subpoena duces tecum (SDT) seeking production of records from applicant’s alleged employer, Lyft, Inc. (Lyft), when defendant asserted that WCAB had no personal or subject matter jurisdiction to issue “meet and confer” order because applicant, who claimed she suffered compensable injuries to her neck, back and other body parts on 2/15/2022, was not Lyft’s employee but rather was independent contractor under Proposition 22 (Prop 22), which is enacted as Business & Professions Code § 7451 and exempts certain app-based transportation services from having to classify their California gig workers as employees under Labor Code § 2775, but WCAB found no evidence that it lacked personal or subject matter jurisdiction in this case, and further reasoned that Prop 22 was declared unconstitutional in Castellanos v. State of California (2021) 86 Cal. Comp. Cases 826, that neither Prop 22 nor burden of proof imposed on alleged employer under Labor Code § 2775 affects WCAB’s jurisdiction to issue interim discovery orders, that applicant was presumed to be employee under Labor Code § 3357 because she was performing services for Lyft when she was injured and defendant’s claim that she was independent contractor was disputed issue subject to WCAB jurisdiction, and that issuance of “meet and confer” order did not cause defendant irreparable harm or significant prejudice so as to justify removal, especially given defendant’s claim that it had no records sought by SDT and could simply respond to SDT with “Declaration of No Records.” [See generally Hanna, Cal. Law of Emp. Inj. and Workers’ Comp. 2d §§ 3.03, 25.40, 25.43; Rassp & Herlick, California Workers’ Compensation Law, Ch. 2, § 2.06[1]; Ch. 15, § 15.45.]