CHICAGO – A Federal Judge advanced Uber and Lyft drivers’ lawsuit against the City of Chicago, Wednesday, August 9, 2017, ruling the City failed to establish its rideshare advertising ban directly furthers any substantial government interest.
The drivers’ lawsuit is in opposition to Chicago Ordinance No. O2014-1367, which specifically prohibits commercial advertisements from being displayed on the exterior or in the interior of rideshare vehicles. The drivers argue the ban violates their First Amendment right to free speech and Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection.
The City moved to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the ban advances its interests in traffic safety, aesthetics and passenger comfort.
In denying the motion, Judge Eliane Bucklo reasoned, “In short, the City has not shown, on the pleadings, that the ordinance directly advances its substantial interests or that it is narrowly tailored to serve those interests.”
Bryant Greening, a partner at Chicago law firm LegalRideshare, said the Court’s decision validates his clients’ claims. “The ruling demonstrates the strength of the drivers’ lawsuit,” Greening said. “The City cannot manufacture reasons to limit Chicago’s Uber and Lyft drivers’ constitutional rights.”
Greening said the ordinance is unconstitutional on its face. “Commercial speech is protected by the First Amendment,” Greening explained. “Chicago cannot prohibit advertisements unless such a ban furthers a substantial government interest. Here, as the Court explained, the government does not show a substantial, or even rational, justification for banning rideshare ads.”
As the lawsuit advances, the drivers seek a permanent injunction on the ban and a nominal award of one dollar ($1.00). “This case is not about money,” Greening said. “This is about governments not arbitrarily restricting our community’s right to speak and ability to earn a living.”
The drivers demand equal protection under the law, Greening said. “Rideshare work is difficult; fares are increasingly cut. Drivers have a right to supplement their income in lawful, constitutionally protected ways.”
The case is pending in the Northern District of Illinois under case number 1:17-cv-00864.
Chicago’s rideshare drivers are represented by attorneys Greening and Matt Belcher of LegalRideshare, LLC. Chicago-based LegalRideshare is the only law firm in the United States to concentrate solely on rideshare accidents, injuries and legal matters. Greening can be contacted at 312-767-7950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.