Uber Downplays Class Action Case, But It’s Still a Big Deal
Yesterday, a federal judge in San Francisco granted class action status to a lawsuit brought against Uber by three of its drivers. This ruling made it possible for thousands of drivers to join the suit, arguing that they ought to be classified as employees, not independent contractors. The decision, and any trial that follows, are expected to have a major impact on the on-demand economy, which depends on these independent contractors.
But in a blog post today, Uber’s managing counsel for employment, Abby Horrigan, not only vowed to appeal the ruling, she also argued that the ruling itself is substantially more narrow than it seems.
A few facts about the O’Connor court case: http://t.co/iGA9KIkGWt
— Uber (@Uber) September 2, 2015
For starters, not all 160,000 drivers in California today are eligible to join the suit. Instead, Horrigan writes, the suit applies only to drivers who stopped driving before June 2014, as well as drivers who were on the app after June 2014 but opted out of the arbitration agreement in Uber’s contract. As part of that agreement, drivers agree to waive their right to “participate as a plaintiff or class in any purported class action or representative proceeding,” though they get nothing in return for doing so. We can only assume there are plenty of drivers who agree to those terms, without reading the fine print.
The classification doesn’t apply to drivers who work for a third-party service, either. That means that UberBlack drivers who also work for limo companies—which Horrigan says made up the bulk of California Uber drivers before June 2014—aren’t eligible either. The same goes for drivers who signed up for Uber as a corporation, rather than under their given name.
And yet, as Uber tries to downplay the scope of the ruling, even Horrigan notes that the classification still applies to some 15,000 drivers past and present. True, that’s less than 10 percent of the 160,000 drivers who were initially expected to be eligible for the suit. But with 15,000 drivers left standing, this case is still a pretty big deal in our book.
Originally posted here: