Uber faces more lawsuits for classifying drivers as contractors

The ride-hailing company has entered into a settlement with drivers in two other lawsuits

Uber Technologies faces more class-action lawsuits from drivers seeking reclassification as employees, even as its settlement in two other suits with drivers in California and Massachusetts has been submitted to a judge for approval.

In the new cases filed in Florida and Illinois, both aiming to be national class-action lawsuits unlike the earlier ones, the drivers have asked the court to address the alleged misclassification by the company of its drivers as independent contractors.

The settlement with drivers in lawsuits in California and Massachusetts provides some monetary and non-monetary benefits to the drivers, with Uber paying up to US$100 million to them. The issue of classification, which was the crux in the cases, was sidestepped.

Recognizing the drivers as employees would require the ride-hailing company to pay them benefits, which would push up the costs for the company. Uber has insisted that its model based around freelance contractors gives drivers flexibility to choose when to work and be their own bosses, among other things.

Based on the alleged misclassification, Uber drivers are required to bear many of the expenses of their employer, including expenses for their vehicles, gas, and other expenses, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami division.

Uber claims it is a lead-generation platform for connecting drivers with riders, but drivers are actually employees within the meaning of the Fair Labor Standards Act as they are required to follow detailed requirements imposed by Uber, are rated by riders, and can be terminated based on their failure to meet requirements, according to the complaint.

The second lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Illinois, Chicago division against Uber and CEO Travis Kalanick, also aims to represent Uber drivers across the U.S., other than those in Massachusetts and Illinois.

It asks the court to classify Uber drivers as employees and to help the drivers recover, among other things, unpaid overtime wages and compensation, reimbursement of all expenses incurred in performing their work as Uber drivers, and payment of all gratuities that were allegedly “earned but stolen” by Uber or were lost due to its communications and policies.

Uber could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuits.

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John Ribeiro

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