Cases & Deals

U.S. Chamber of Commerce achieves victory in antitrust challenge to Seattle for-hire driver collective-bargaining ordinance

Client(s) U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Jones Day represented the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a lawsuit challenging a collective-bargaining ordinance enacted by the City of Seattle. The ordinance authorized for-hire drivers who are independent contractors to unionize, and it compelled ride-referral companies like Uber and Lyft to collectively bargain with those unions over fees and other contractual terms. The lawsuit contended that the ordinance, the first of its kind in the United States, authorized price fixing by drivers and therefore violated federal antitrust law.

The district court dismissed the suit based on the city's defense of state-action antitrust immunity under Parker v. Brown, 317 U.S. 341 (1943). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed. It held that the city satisfied neither element required for state-action immunity. This eliminated the city's core justification for its collective-bargaining ordinance. Accordingly, while the case was on remand, the city amended the ordinance to eliminate the provisions authorizing price fixing by for-hire drivers. Because those provisions have been eliminated, and because the city is not enforcing the remainder of the ordinance, the Chamber voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.

Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America v. Seattle, No. 2:17-cv-00370 (W.D. Wash.); No. 17-35640 (9th Cir.)