In setback for Uber, judge says drivers can pursue lawsuit as a group

A judge has granted "class action" status to drivers in a lawsuit against Uber in California

In a setback for Uber, a federal judge has ruled that drivers in California can sue the company as a group over the question of whether they're merely contractors or are employees who are entitled to additional benefits.

The judge had to decide whether the case would focus on just the handful of drivers named in the litigation or whether it could be a “class action” lawsuit whose outcome will apply to as many as 160,000 current and former Uber drivers in the state.

On Tuesday, District Court Judge Edward Chen granted class-action status for the issue of whether the drivers are employees or contractors and whether they should have received tips that Uber allegedly withheld.

Chen decided not to grant class status on the question of whether drivers are entitled to work-related expenses, though he left the door open to adding that issue down the road.

A key question in making his decision, the judge wrote, was whether the drivers’ relationships with Uber are sufficiently similar that they can be litigated as a group.

Uber has argued that its "right of control" over drivers and its day-to-day relationships with them are not uniform enough for the claims to be tried en masse.

However, the judge noted, there's “inherent tension” between that argument and Uber’s central position that all of its drivers are independent contractors rather than employees.

“On one hand, Uber argues that it has properly classified every single driver as an independent contractor; on the other, Uber argues that individual issues with respect to each driver’s 'unique' relationship with Uber so predominate that this Court (unlike, apparently, Uber itself) cannot make a classwide determination of its drivers’ proper job classification," the judge wrote.

“It appears that at least one of these arguments cannot be entirely accurate, and for the purposes of resolving this motion the Court concludes that a number of Uber’s class certification arguments are problematic.”

Uber didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

At this stage, the judge had to decide only whether to grant the drivers class-action status. He didn't make any ruling on the central question of whether they are contractors or employees. That's something a jury will likely have to figure out.

The class to be represented in the case includes any UberBlack, UberX and UberSUV drivers who have driven for Uber in California since August 2009 and who didn't waive their right to class-action arbitration.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Uber

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

James Niccolai

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?