A judge recently handed Uber some bad news when he shot down the company’s attempts to avoid a class action lawsuit. The suit, filed by a number of the people who drive for the ride-hailing app, claims that Uber misclassified its drivers as independent contractors when they should have been employees.
Now with judge approval, the lawsuit against Uber can move forward class action status. Uber had hoped to prevent the suit from escalating to class action in order to make it easier for the company to defend itself. The judge’s decision will also carry great weight in the building case against similar ride-hailing app, Lyft.
A spokeswoman for Uber has already made a statement that the company will be seeking an appeal to the decision. The company remains adamant that the people who drive for them are completely independent, and can work as much or as little as they want.
Uber presented testimonials of more than 400 drivers that said they prefer to remain classified as independent contractors, but the judge still ruled that the suit can move forward. The judge called these testimonials “statistically insignificant” when compared to the number of other Uber drivers, which is somewhere around 160,000.
Uber has already been dealt a blow prior to this as well when a woman in San Francisco was determined to be an employee rather than an independent contractor by a judge in an isolated case. This case has no connection to the class action, but it might give the drivers a little more leverage.
Should the drivers win, Uber will have to classify its drivers as employees. Employees, unlike independent contractors, would have to be afforded a number of protections and benefits similar to any other company its size. Uber itself would have to change its entire financial model if it loses this case, which could even mean an end to the company that is now worth billions.
Atkerson Law Firm – Dallas employment lawyer