• Assembly Bill 5 "does not automatically reclassify any ride-share drivers from independent contractors to employees," Uber's chief legal officer told reporters on Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal .
  • Uber drivers are "properly classified as independent," Tony West said, adding the ride-hailing giant will "respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court."
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Uber will fight to keep its drivers as independent contractors after California passed a bill forcing "gig economy" companies to treat their workers as employees.

State senators recently passed Assembly Bill 5, which threatens to reclassify hundreds of thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in California as employees entitling them to benefits such as a minimum hourly wage and unemployment insurance, and potentially setting a precedent for other states to follow. The law is expected to be approved and take effect on January 1.

The bill "does not automatically reclassify any (ride-hailing) drivers from independent contractors to employees," Uber's chief legal officer, Tony West, told reporters on Wednesday, according to the Wall Street Journal .

West argued the bill raises the bar for workers to be considered contractors, but the ride-hailing giant clears it, the Journal reported. Uber drivers are "properly classified as independent," West said, adding the firm will "respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court."

"AB5 does not provide drivers with benefits, nor does it give drivers the right to organize," he added, according to the Journal. "In fact, the bill currently says nothing about ride-share drivers."

Uber and Lyft have previously downplayed the bill as a qualification of existing law, argued it would hurt workers by reducing flexibility, and claimed it would lead to customers paying more. Lyft has also said the bill would lower some of its costs and give it more control over drivers.

Read more: California just passed a bill turning 'gig economy' workers into employees. Here's what Uber and Lyft have said.

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SEE ALSO: California just passed a bill turning 'gig economy' workers into employees. Here's what Uber and Lyft have said.