Nasir and Matt break down the new laws involving Uber and Lyft in Colorado and answer the question, "Now that it's almost summertime, I want to implement casual Fridays. Is there something I should restrict from a legal standpoint?"
NASIR: Welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business.
This is Nasir Pasha.
MATT: And this is Matt Staub.
NASIR: Welcome to our business legal podcast, Episode #48.
This is where we cover business in the news and add our legal twist and also answer some of your business legal questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and soon to be dot-pizza, when I get it.
MATT: Almost have it, yeah.
NASIR: Don’t send it yet. I’ll tell you when.
MATT: It’s a pipedream but it’s all right.
NASIR: Very good. Well, today’s a good topic. It’s a recurring topic, right? I don’t know how many times we’ve covered Uber and Lyft and other sharing economy issues. I think this is our fiftieth. Even though we’ve only had 48 episodes, we’ve covered it 50 times, I think.
MATT: Yeah, we do seem to talk about it a lot, but it’s kind of an important thing, especially now. In Colorado, what just happened is rules for Uber and Lyft and all these other driving businesses like this, if there are other ones, has become a law in Colorado which I’m sure taxicab drivers hate and limousine services and other things like that. But this is a good thing for the general public. I guess, basically, the big thing here with it becoming a law in Colorado is it was a whole issue of when, of course, the companies had insurance policies out on the drivers but, when did those policies go into effect? You know, obviously, if they’re driving a passenger, then yes, but what if they’re sitting there, waiting for a ride or waiting for someone to request a ride, is it active then? I guess what Colorado did is make it from the moment the person requests the ride, the policy will go into effect and now the drivers have to have personal policies in place for all those other off times.
NASIR: Which makes sense because, basically, all of a sudden, you’re under the control of Uber or Lyft as soon as you accept an invitation to go. Other times, you may be on personal business and so forth.
But this whole thing, I think they’re all supposed to get licenses and background check, right? To obtain permits in Colorado.
MATT: That sounds right. I didn’t fact-check that.
NASIR: Okay. Well, someone, fact-check that for me, but I think I’m right because, to obtain permits, the companies must have drivers pass criminal background and driving history checks. The drivers’ cars must pass vehicle inspections and be clearly marked as TNC cars which are some kind of taxi and limo network is how they’re classifying it.
What’s interesting is – I don’t want to freak everyone out – if these guys aren’t going through criminal background checks and we know exactly who their identity is, it kind of reminds me of all these serial murder movies. It’s always a taxi driver, isn’t it? That’s the culprit. Now, there’s so much regulation with taxi drivers, with these Lyft and Uber drivers, it’s kind of scary, if you think about it.
MATT: Yeah, Lyft and UberX, that could be anyone.
NASIR: Yeah, that’s what I’m getting at.
MATT: It’s not cab drivers. It’s literally just any person who can drive can do it. This is an easy movie to do. I’m sure it’s probably already out and it’s going to be on Lifetime here in the next couple of months. This is an easy movie to make.
NASIR: Yeah, I wonder what the title will be like – “Uber Killer.”
MATT: Yeah, it’ll be like…
NASIR: That’s the worst title ever.
MATT: Man, I’ve got to think of something now.
NASIR: Yeah, think of something.
But the main issue here is also insurance, right? They’re saying they haven’t solved every issue. To me, frankly, this is an issue of the insurance company of how they write the policies because they’re the ones that are going to determine what’s covered and what’s not. The issue that the state government is trying to deal with is who actually is liable – not which insurance company is whether they’re going to cover or not. In reality, it seems like you should try to get some kind of joint policy through Uber and I think we talked about this where an insurance company is going to cover not only what’s on the job stuff but also possibly stuff that’s off the job. So, either way, the driver is properly insured – whether or not they find Uber liable or the driver liable.
MATT: Yeah, and these people would be stupid to not have auto insurance personally. If this is what they’re going to be doing, it’d just be a dumb move in the first place.
NASIR: You would think so but, if they’re getting paid less than taxi drivers, then you can only assume that they may not have the resources to do so. I don’t know but that’s definitely an important point.
MATT: All right. Well, question of the day time.
“Now that it’s almost summertime, I want to implement Casual Fridays. Is there something I should restrict from a legal standpoint?”
This comes from a company in Santa Rosa, California.
NASIR: All right, that’s a good question. It is almost summertime. I guess, Memorial Day, that’s when things start or is it June 21st?
MATT: I don’t know the seasons. That sounds about right.
NASIR: All right. well, it is almost summertime. Well, why don’t they have Casual Fridays in the wintertime?
MATT: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, too. That’s a little bit weird.
NASIR: Nonetheless, I think most places have dress code policies but they may not write it down, right? They may just say, “Okay, well, it’s business casual or you have to wear a tie or business attire every day.” Dress codes, especially if you put it in writing, are always kind of touchy because you have to be very careful with how the dress code is applied to different types of people of different classes. When I say “classes” I mean classes that are protected by your federal and state government because, for example, in California, certain classes of gender, sexual orientation, race, et cetera, these things are protected classes. If somehow you implement your dress code policy substantially differently between these two and discriminated against them – even religious as well – then that could definitely pose a problem.
MATT: Yeah, it seems like it could give rise to some issues in terms of discrimination. Maybe even harassment, too, if you really want to get into it.
NASIR: Yeah, definitely.
MATT: I think the key here is just to be smart about it.
There’s not much harm in having Casual Fridays but don’t go overboard. There’s the episode of The Office where they have a Casual Friday and it turns out being disastrous, of course. But, for the most part, you should be fine.
MATT: I guess the one thing I can think of from a legal standpoint is don’t wear anything that’s extremely casual – like sandals or flip-flops – probably not the best idea in the workplace because it could give rise to more liability issues, but I don’t think people would go that far.
NASIR: Yeah, and it’s true. Culturally, it depends upon what people mean by casual. In my mind, in any business environment – and this is just me personally – even if it’s a Casual Friday, jeans are okay but shorts are not and sandals are not, but that’s my perspective. And so, pinning it down and actually having a written policy may be advisable. Just be careful because, for example, there has been many cases where, for example, gender discrimination where women are allowed to wear their hair long but men are not. Or religious discrimination where a person was asked to cover his tattoo where that certain symbol that was put on his body had to be shown and hiding it was a sin and so forth and that was found to be legitimate. There is also race. Well, if you have a dress code for different races, I think that’s pretty obvious how wrong that is but you never know. I suppose someone’s done that in the past.
MATT: Yeah, definitely. For a lot of these things, it should be fairly obvious. If you just use some basic logic or basic reasoning and do what’s reasonable, then you should be okay.
NASIR: Yeah, absolutely. Of course, also, disability is one thing I forgot to mention as well.
MATT: For me, Casual Fridays is just a suit because I usually wear tuxes during the week.
NASIR: Yeah, same here, I would agree. I wear a suit but maybe sandals with it, just to make it.
MATT: Yeah, all right, I won’t get into my opinions on things. I mean, this has been a fashion week I guess because we did the Paris Hilton episode.
NASIR: Why? Do you hate sandals or what?
MATT: Oh, no, I just don’t like at weddings when all the guys are wearing suits and then wearing tennis shoes. I’m just not a fan of that.
NASIR: Oh, yeah, I hate that.
Sandals are okay but not tennis shoes. That doesn’t make any sense. we’re on the same page there.
MATT: Fair enough. I don’t know if I came up with any ideas for the name. The Last Lyft? I don’t know. UberX, I don’t know.
NASIR: Well, maybe someone can come up with suggestions. That would be a good contest to have. We’ll ask our listeners to submit them in and we’ll come up with some.
MATT: This is going to be a movie. Like, it’s no doubt going to be a movie and I’ll probably watch it, too.
NASIR: Yeah, after I direct and produce it, you better watch it.
MATT: I’ll write it; you direct and produce.
NASIR: I guess you can write it then. Thanks for inviting yourself to the party.
“Uber Killer… Dead Lyft… The last ride of your life…”
Coming soon to a theatre near you. Check local listings for show times.
NASIR: All right. well, that’s our episode for the day. Thank you for listening, of course.
Of course, leave your top-end five-star thumbs-up reviews at our iTunes channel. Is it an iTunes channel or just an iTunes whatever our show is called? One of those things. Just give good reviews, please.
MATT: I think it’d be a YouTube channel. I don’t think there’s an iTunes channel but, yeah, iTunes reviews are great. We have some pretty good ones up there. We appreciate it!
NASIR: Thanks for listening!
MATT: Keep it sound and keep it smart.