Uber drivers have filed a class action lawsuit claiming they have been misclassified as independent contractors and are entitled to be reimbursed for their expenses that Uber should have to pay, like for gas and vehicle maintenance. The lawsuit also challenges Uber’s former practice of telling passengers that the gratuity is included and not to tip the drivers, even though (until last year) you were not getting a tip!!
On April 30, 2018, the California Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling that changed the test for independent contractor status in California. The Court adopted the ABC test that is used in Massachusetts. Under this test, the burden will be on Uber to prove that drivers do not perform services within Uber’s usual course of business. In other words, if Uber cannot prove that it is not a transportation company, then its drivers would be employees under California law. We expect this decision to have a major impact on this lawsuit.
However, Uber is still continuing to vigorously defend itself in this lawsuit and is attempting to reverse the trial court’s certification of the case as a class action, and Uber is trying to require drivers to pursue individual arbitrations if they want to recover any damages for the wage law violations we have alleged. For this reason, given the ongoing uncertainty about whether Uber's arbitration clauses will be enforced, IF YOU ARE AN UBER DRIVER IN CALIFORNIA OR MASSACHUSETTS WHO DID NOT OPT OUT OF THE ARBITRATION CLAUSE, PLEASE CONTACT US, if you have not already, to sign up to bring an arbitration claim. Thousands of Uber drivers have signed up with us to proceed in arbitration if that becomes necessary. Email us at email@example.com to obtain a form to sign up with us if you want to be included.
In November 2016, the judge stayed the case pending several appeals that Uber has filed challenging the court's rulings regarding Uber's arbitration clause. Those appeals were argued in September 2017 before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Those appeals were stayed while we awaited a decision from the United States Supreme Court. On May 21, 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that companies can use arbitration clauses to block employment class actions. We have continued to press the argument, however, that the lead plaintiffs in this case opted out of arbitration and thus can be deemed to have rejected arbitration on behalf of a class. We have also begun filing many individual arbitrations. We do not yet know when there will a decision from the Ninth Circuit on Uber’s appeals. In the meantime, we are continuing to try and get a new trial date set. We will keep you posted regarding any new developments.
Last year, we filed a new lawsuit against Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, in order to hold them personally liable for the wages owed to California Uber drivers. Under California law, individuals who advise companies to classify workers as independent contractors, who are later determined to be employees, are personally liable for the companies’ wage violations. Although Mr. Kalanick is no longer Uber’s CEO, we have filed this case to ensure that he and others are held personally responsible for any liability we can establish against Uber. We may amend this complaint to add other Uber advisers, including Board Members, who may also be held liable for Uber’s violations.
In 2016, we reached a proposed settlement with Uber under which it would pay up to $100 million and make some significant changes in its policies. However, the court declined to approve the settlement. The court’s concern was largely with the settlement’s reduction in the massive potential penalties that could be recovered (mostly for the State of California) under the Private Attorney General Act (PAGA). Since that time, Uber has settled the PAGA claims (in another case). We are continuing to pursue the class claims that we filed in 2013 and are also trying to pursue PAGA claims for the last year (which was not covered by Uber’s settlement of those claims).
Because of this development, and a recent ruling in a related case, it is possible that the class in this case may be reduced to the few Uber drivers who opted out of arbitration (or who stopped working for Uber before the arbitration clause was first introduced in August 2013). In a related case regarding background checks, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the judge in our case on his ruling that Uber’s arbitration clause is not enforceable. We still have a separate appeal pending in our case in which we have argued that Uber’s arbitration clause is not enforceable for a different reason – because it violates the drivers’ rights under the National Labor Relations Act to engage in concerted activity.
But because of the ongoing uncertainty about whether the arbitration clause will be enforced, again, if you are an Uber driver in California or Massachusetts who did not opt out of the arbitration clause, but you want to be sure to be included in our case, you should contact us, if you have not already, to sign up to bring an arbitration claim in the event that the arbitration clause is enforced. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a form to sign up with us if you want to be included.
PREVIOUS LAWSUIT NEWS:
We won a major victory on March 11, 2015, when the judge overseeing the case, Judge Edward M. Chen, of the federal district court in San Francisco, denied Uber’s motion for summary judgment! In his decision, the judge agreed with many of our arguments about why Uber drivers may be properly classified as employees. Under the court’s order, the case would go to trial before a jury. See the news stories below for reports on the ruling.
We won another important victory on December 9, 2015, when the court issued its final order certifying the case as a class action. Under this decision, the case will now include all drivers who have contracted with Uber directly and in their own name (not through intermediate companies) in California since 2009.
However, Uber has appealed the Court's ruling striking the arbitration clause, which led to the Court to certify this large class. In the event that drivers will need to file individual arbitrations, we are keeping a list of drivers who are interested in bringing claims individually. If you want to be on our list, please contact us for a form.
Importantly, the court excluded from the class all drivers who have driven for Uber using a corporate name, or through an intermediate company (like a limousine company). We filed a new case on behalf of drivers who drove through limo companies or used corporate names with Uber.
The case was set to begin trial on June 20, 2016. However, the trial was stayed pending the Court’s consideration of the proposed settlement. After the Court declined to approve the settlement, we asked the Court to put the trial back on the calendar. But the Court declined to reset the trial date, since Uber’s appeal of the Court’s arbitration rulings and class certification order are pending. We will continue to seek a new trial date as soon as the Court will allow.
We originally filed this case on behalf of Uber drivers across the country. In an early ruling, the judge agreed with us that the case could proceed on behalf of drivers nationwide. In a later ruling, however, the judge changed his mind and limited the case to drivers in California.
In 2015, the California Labor Commissioner ruled that an Uber driver was indeed an employee, not an independent contractor, and ordered Uber to reimburse the driver for her expenses. However, Uber appealed the decision, which would be reviewed de novo in court.
In addition to the decision by the California Labor Commissioner, the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board has ruled that an Uber driver is an employees eligible to obtain unemployment benefits. Similarly, the Bureau of Labor and Industries of the State of Oregon has issued an Advisory Opinion that Uber drivers are employees. The New York Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board has also now ruled that Uber drivers are employees entitled to unemployment compensation. And a Pennsylvania Appeals Court has rejected Uber’s argument that its driver was operating an independent business and ruled that the driver is eligible for unemployment.
Uber has been arguing that drivers are independent contractors, and not employees, because they can set their own hours, and Uber makes much of the fact that drivers like setting their own schedules. We don’t disagree that drivers like to be able to work whenever they want! The fact that drivers set their own schedules does not make them independent contractors. We are not challenging Uber's system of providing flexibility for its drivers! We believe that, as Uber operates now, drivers are employees under California law. So if we win this case, there is no reason drivers should lose their flexibility. The judge has agreed that nothing about this case is challenging the drivers being able to set their own hours. Our argument is simply that, under the law, when drivers are working for Uber, they are Uber's employees and must receive the wage protections that employees receive.
If you have any questions, please call (855) 590-2600, or email us at email@example.com.
Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and her firm have represented thousands of tipped employees, and employees who have been misclassified as independent contractors, all around the country. See her firm’s website for more information: www.llrlaw.com.
Click here to read a copy of the lawsuit complaint.
Click here to read the court’s summary judgment order of March 11, 2015.
Click here to read the court’s class certification order of September 2, 2015.
Click here to read a transcript of the summary judgment hearing held on January 30, 2015.
Click here to read a transcript of the class certification hearing held on August 6, 2015.
Click here to read the court’s class certification order of December 9, 2015.
In order to join our contact list of drivers interested in the case who want to receive updates, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your name, email address, and location where you have driven for Uber.
The attorneys representing the drivers are:
Uber cannot legally retaliate against you for cooperating with the lawsuit.
California Ruling a ‘Seismic Shift’ for Gig Economy Workers
Associated Press | May 2018
Gig Economy Business Model Dealt a Blow in California Ruling
The New York Times | April 2018
Mass Uber Drivers Can Proceed In Misclassification Row
Law 360 | March 2018
NLRB to Argue Against Uber in Key Labor Fight in Ninth Circuit
The Recorder | August 2017
Calif. Judge Pauses Five Uber Suits As 9th Circ. Ponders
Law360 | November 2016
In stinging decision for Uber drivers, appeals court says they must go to arbitration
LA Times | September 2016
U.S. judge rejects Uber's driver expenses settlement
Reuters | August 2016
Uber’s Worst Nightmare
San Francisco Magazine | May 2016
Following $100 Million Settlement, Tipping Uber Drivers is Now on the Menu
Newsweek | April 2016
Uber Agrees to Pay $100 Million to Drivers in Historic Class Action Settlement
Mother Jones | April 2016
Meet the attorney suing Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and a dozen California tech firms
LA Times | January 2016
Uber's Least Favorite Lawyer Strikes Again
The Recorder | January 2016
Uber sued by drivers excluded from class-action lawsuit
LA Times | January 2016
Year in Preview: What the Uber Lawsuit Means for Workers in the Sharing Economy
SF Weekly | December 2015
Meet Sledgehammer Shannon, the Lawyer Who Is Uber’s Worst Nightmare
Mother Jones | December 2015
That Little Lawsuit Against Uber Just Got Bigger
Vice News | December 2015
The biggest legal threat to Uber’s business just got a whole lot bigger
Quartz | December 2015
Uber Drivers Suit Granted Class-Action Status
The Wall Street Journal | September 2015
A Federal Judge Just Shredded Uber's Arguments Against a Major Class-Action Lawsuit
Slate | September 2015
California Court Gets One Step Closer to Deciding Uber's Fate
Time | August 2015
California labor regulators blast a big hole in Uber's 'sharing economy' dodge
Los Angeles Times | June 2015
Uber driver was employee, not contractor, California commission says
The Wall Street Journal | June 2015
Case against Uber seeks to reclassify drivers as employees, not contractors (Audio Interview)
SiriusXM News | May 2015
How one woman could destroy Uber's business model - and take the entire on demand economy down with it
New York Magazine | April 2015
What strippers can teach Uber
Medium | April 2015
Uber, Lyft cases could help clarify drivers' legal status
Wall Street Journal | March 2015
Uber, Lyft lawsuits could spell trouble for the on-demand economy
Time | March 2015
The lawsuits that could change Lyft and Uber forever (Video)
Bloomberg News | March 2015
What’s at stake if Uber and Lyft’s labor models go to trial
The Wall Street Journal | March 2015
Juries to decide landmark cases against Uber and Lyft
Forbes | March 2015
The hidden costs of being an Uber driver
Washington Post | February 2015
Some Uber, Lyft drivers want employee status (Video)
CNBC | February 2015
Attorney suing Uber, Lyft in independent contractor case won similar fights for FedEx drivers, strippers (Video)
San Francisco Business Times | February 2015
Judges skeptical of Uber-Lyft claims in labor cases
The Wall Street Journal | February 2015
Before Uber revolutionizes labor, it's going to have to explain these embarrassing emails
The Verge | January 2015
Internal Uber e-mails reflect company's brash reputation
SF Gate | January 2015
Suits seek to force Lyft and Uber to treat drivers as employees
Buzzfeed | January 2015
The inconvenient truth about ride-sharing
Boston Globe | December 2014
Video: Uber anger: lawsuit claims drivers treated unfairly
WGBH | November 2014
Audio: Shannon Liss-Riordan - Unfair treatment of Uber Drivers
WRKO | July 2014
New lawsuit claims Uber exploits drivers
Boston Globe | June 2014
Judge to Uber: Let drivers join class-action lawsuit
SF Gate | June 2014
This Boston lawyer could be Uber's nemesis as it eyes expansion
Xconomy | May 2014
Judge orders Uber to change ADR clause
The Recorder | May 2014
Drivers accuse car app Uber of dictating terms, skimming tips
Aljazeera America | April 2014
Judge greenlights class-action lawsuit against Uber, drivers say they're being stiffed
SF Weekly | December 2013
Uber drivers' suit over tips clears hurdle
San Francisco Chronicle | December 2013
Cabbies duped by Uber given second chance
Courthouse News Service | December 2013
Uber's Other Legal Mess: Drivers Sue Over Missing Tips
Businessweek | August 2013
Lawsuit Alleges Uber Unfairly Withholds Tips From Drivers
SF Bay Guardian | August 2013
Uber Sued Again Over Tip-Skimming Claims, Case Could Go National
Xconomy | August 2013