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Uber Drivers Lawsuits

On September 2, 2015, Uber drivers in California won another victory in court, when a judge certified a pending lawsuit as class action. The drivers are claiming that they have been misclassified by Uber as independent contractors, when in fact they should be treated as employees of the company. The independent contractor status exempts Uber from having to reimburse drivers for gas, tolls, and other expenses, such as car maintenance. It also means Uber drivers are ineligible to receive unemployment benefits. The class action status of the lawsuit comes on the heels of a March 11, 2015 ruling by a San Francisco court that denied Uber’s motion for a summary judgment.

 

Uber has historically operated on the premise that it is a technology-based platform that connects passengers with car owners, instead of a chauffeur or taxi service that hires and employs drivers. Uber has obtained an estimated fifty-one billion dollars from investors based on this business philosophy. The company has appealed to millions of car owners who want to be able to set their own hours as drivers and hold other part-time jobs. While the flexibility is alluring, the independent contractor status makes Uber drivers not able to receive health insurance, workers’ compensation, and repayment for work expenses.

 

While the lawsuit has been certified as class action, only a minority of California Uber drivers are permitted to join the class. When Uber updated their contracts last year, over four hundred drivers waived their right to class-action arbitration, preferring the flexibility offered by independent contractor status. Also ineligible to join the class are some drivers who work for independent transportation companies. This means roughly one out of three drivers who initially brought the lawsuit may be eliminated from actually taking part. Still, the court believes the class members in the suit could total 160,000.

 

One of the factors in determining a worker’s classification as employee or contractor is how much control the company exerts over the individual. One of the arguments in the lawsuit is that Uber dictates many facets of a driver’s workday, such as how much to charge a passenger and deciding when and why a driver may be terminated. If the class action suit holds up in court, thousands of California Uber drivers may recover past expenses.

 

The case may also have repercussions throughout the burgeoning freelance landscape. Other startup companies that created their model similar to Uber’s, such as car parking and house cleaning services, are making changes. Instacart and Shyp are newer delivery operations that are planning to switch their drivers’ independent contractor status to employee. 

Article Type: Lawsuit
Topic: Employment

Most Recent Case Event

Court holds material facts exist to determine question of whether Uber drivers are independent contractors or employees

March 11, 2015

Here is the order denying Uber's motion for summary judgment.  A good read.  THe court basically holds that questions of fact exist as to whether Uber drivers are independent contractors (as Uber contends) or employees (as the plaintiffs contend).  Important question:  Employees are generally afforded more rights than independent contractors.

uber_summary_judgment_order.pdf

Case Event History

Court holds material facts exist to determine question of whether Uber drivers are independent contractors or employees

March 11, 2015

Here is the order denying Uber's motion for summary judgment.  A good read.  THe court basically holds that questions of fact exist as to whether Uber drivers are independent contractors (as Uber contends) or employees (as the plaintiffs contend).  Important question:  Employees are generally afforded more rights than independent contractors.

uber_summary_judgment_order.pdf
Tags: Employment Violations, Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors, Your Job