Major Decision on Uber Employment Practices Class Action Upcoming

Jared Firestone

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— Updated on June 23, 2020

Major Decision on Uber Employment Practices Class Action Upcoming

Uber Class ActionThe outcome of a lawsuit faced by the popular ride sharing app Uber in California could have monumental effects throughout the nascent ride-sharing industry.

The lawsuit was filed by Uber drivers in San Francisco federal court. The drivers are hoping to force Uber to recognize them as full employees, rather than independent contractors. As employees, the drivers would be able to be reimbursed by Uber for expenses. Such as gas and vehicle maintenance, incurred during the course of their work. In addition, Uber would be forced to pay Social Security, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance for its drivers. The plaintiffs are arguing that Uber exercises a sufficient amount of control over its drivers for them to gain employee status. Such as the company’s ability to terminate drivers at-will.

The first issue to be decided in this case is whether or not the drivers form a class action. A class action certification hearing took place on Thursday, August 13th, the result of which has yet to be announced.

If granted class action status, the lawsuit could include up to 160,000 California Uber drivers. The main question in deciding whether a group of plaintiffs can be considered a class is whether the drivers are similar enough to be grouped into one class. Previous class action certification suits against similar companies like Lyft and Postmates have not granted the plaintiff-drivers class action status.

In arguing that the drivers are too different to be considered of the same class, Uber, led by outside counsel Ted Boutrous, will point to differences between employees such as working hours. Including how some employees also work for other ride-sharing companies. Shannon Liss-Riordan will argue on behalf of the drivers that they all share the most essential aspects of the job.

A persuasive case on the matter of class certification is Wal-Mart v. Dukes, a Supreme Court case from 2011 involving 1.6 million female Wal-Mart employees in a gender discrimination case. In Wal-Mart, Mr. Boutrous won the case on behalf of Wal-Mart, as the Court ruled that the employees were too varied to be a single class. As the hiring supervisors all operated with different hiring guidelines that may have affected the women at each location differently. In light of this ruling, the plaintiffs in the Uber case will try to argue how the hiring protocols and rules of operation are more uniform amongst Uber drivers than they were for Wal-Mart employees.

An expert in employment would be useful to either party in this case. Employment experts can testify about matters involving employment law and employee benefits.

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