Uber Files Opposition To Case That Could Make All Drivers Employees Instead Of Independent Contractors

Uber filed a briefing in court today that opposes a class-action lawsuit attempting to label drivers as Uber employees instead of as independent contractors.

The California Labor Commission ruled on a court case in June that at least one Uber driver was an employee and not considered an independent contractor.

Drivers in both Lyft and Uber also filed class-action lawsuits in March alleging both ride hailing companies had misclassified them as independent contractors instead of employees. And both claim that Uber and Lyft were depriving them of certain rights and benefits.

Uber refutes the claim that drivers should be employees and says the lawsuit does not reflect the desires of most of its drivers to remain independent.

“We have driver after driver explaining their unique circumstances, why freedom and autonomy are so important to them in their own words, in sworn testimony. All of that goes right to the heart of our argument why this can’t be a class because for there to be a class everyone must be similarly situated, they must have suffered the same injuries, allegedly. That is the opposite of what we have here,” Uber’s lawyer from Gibson Dunn Ted Boutrous, Jr. told TechCrunch.

Eighty-seven percent of drivers use Uber mainly because they love being their own boss, according to an Uber spokesperson. “As employees, drivers would drive set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and lose the ability to drive using other ride sharing apps as well as the personal flexibility they most value,” they said.

Both Uber and Lyft lost key motions in the suits, which could have a far-reaching impact for several “on demand” type startups that run on a 1099 business model.

Uber believes it lost due to out-dated rules and not because there was merit to the claims of deprivation. Judges noted in each case that the current regulations are made for an older model that doesn’t fit this new type of business structure.

Judge Edward M. Chen decided the Uber case and Judge Vince Chhabri made the decision on the Lyft case. However, both judges came to very similar conclusions and pointed out that drivers for both Uber and Lyft don’t seem like employees or independent contractors in their decisions. Both concluded that because it was murky these cases would best be suited for a decision by jury.

Uber’s filing today is an attempt to block the suit with the argument that it cannot be considered a class-action if it does not represent the majority of the drivers working on Uber’s platform.

“Uber’s filing today overwhelmingly demonstrates that plaintiffs’ attempt to certify a sweeping class action in this case must be rejected,” Uber said in a statement. “Decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit, and other courts make clear that a class cannot be certified here. And the mountain of evidence submitted with the court—including the expert report of Berkeley Professor Justin McCrary and declarations of over 400 drivers from across California—proves that these three plaintiffs do not and cannot represent the interests of the thousands of other drivers who value the complete flexibility and autonomy they enjoy as independent contractors. The plaintiffs’ legal theory in this case presents highly individualized issues that preclude class certification.”

You can read more on the filing below:

BRIEF – Uber – Opposition to Motion for Class Certification (1)