Uber faces potential California class action lawsuit over driver benefits and employment status

Posted
by Jay Pate

Uber is facing a potential class action lawsuit in California from drivers who allege that the ride-hailing service improperly treats them as independent contractors rather than employees. The drivers who filed the lawsuit against Uber assert that since they are employees, the company should be forced to reimburse them for expenses and tips that they allege were improperly withheld. A hearing to determine whether to certify the driver’s class action lawsuit is scheduled to be held in San Francisco in early August.

Uber uses smartphone technology to match users who submit a trip request with nearby drivers to take them to their destination. The company has grown rapidly in recent years, expanding into cities across the globe since it was launched in 2009.

The dispute over the employee status of Uber drivers is also at the heart of the company’s business model—a phenomenon which has come to be known as “Uberfication”. The roughly 160,000 people who drive for Uber set their own hours and use their own vehicles in order to provide rides to customers. Uber classifies these drivers as independent contractors—which allows the company to avoid paying payroll taxes, overtime, or federal minimum wage. It also means that Uber is able to avoid paying for health care and vehicle upkeep costs in some states.

However, according to the class action lawsuit filed against the company, Uber subjects its drivers to a common set of policies and procedures. As such, the drivers argue, they are entitled to repayment for expenses, withheld tips, and other damages caused by their misclassification as independent contractors.

Class action experts say that although the Supreme Court’s decision in Walmart Stores v. Dukes may make it difficult for the drivers to achieve class action certification, key differences between the Walmart case and the Uber situation could strengthen the likelihood that the judge hearing arguments in the case could find in the drivers’ favor.

In June 2015, the California Labor Commissioner’s Office ruled in favor of a former Uber driver who was denied more than $4000 in expenses by the company because she had been misclassified as a contractor rather than an employee. Uber has appealed the California board’s decision in the case.

Uber’s business model has come under fire from local governments and taxicab companies in recent years. Both groups have alleged that the company’s use of unlicensed drivers is unsafe and illegal. Taxi drivers around the world have held public protests and initiated legal action against Uber over the company’s business model, arguing that because drivers for the company don’t pay taxes or licensing fees they present unfair competition to taxi drivers.

FLSA Lawsuits Filed Over Wage-And-Hour Violations

Despite the increased vigilance on the part of many employers due to the rise in lawsuits filed over violations of federal labor laws, many employees continue to be victims of unfair payment practices. Employees covered under a federal law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act are entitled to basic protections such as minimum wage, overtime compensation, and other employment standards.

Workers who are subject to overtime violations or other improper payment practices may be eligible to file a lawsuit under FLSA and receive back pay or other compensation. FLSA lawsuits that are filed on behalf of individual workers or as a class action may allege that an employer failed to properly pay workers for the time they spent on the job or denied other benefits to which they are entitled under federal labor laws.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson and FLSA Class Action Litigation

Thousands of FLSA lawsuits and class action cases are filed each year by workers who allege that they were not fairly paid for their overtime work. FLSA non-exempt employees who work more than 40 hours per week and were not paid time and a half for their overtime work may also have grounds to file a lawsuit or a class action case against their employer under the FLSA.

The first step in filing a class action lawsuit and recovering unpaid benefits from an employer is to secure the services of an attorney with experience in handling class action litigation. The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed class action lawsuits across the country on behalf of workers and other individuals who have been harmed by the conduct of businesses. If you were the victim of FLSA violations in the workplace, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit or join an existing class action lawsuit.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented numerous class action plaintiffs in various lawsuits filed in California or elsewhere. All of the attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are trial lawyers in the truest sense of the term. Our firm will not hesitate to take a case all the way to court in order to achieve the best possible results for our clients. So far, the attorneys at our firm have achieved verdicts and settlements of more than $200 million on behalf of our clients.

If you believe you may have a proposed class action complaint, contact us for a free consultation by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001 or by following the link to the free consultation form on this website to find out more about your legal options.