Uber hit with new lawsuit on whether or not its drivers are workers


Angela Lang/CNET

The lawsuits towards Uber over whether or not its drivers are workers or unbiased contractors have already begun. On the heels of California legislators passing a landmark invoice on Tuesday that might make gig financial system corporations reclassify their workers as employees, Uber’s chief authorized officer mentioned the regulation won’t necessarily apply to the ride-hailing company. However some drivers disagree.

A lawsuit, which seeks class-action standing, was filed towards Uber in federal courtroom in California on Wednesday evening. The swimsuit, which was earlier reported by The New York Times, was introduced by legal professional Shannon Liss-Riordan. She has a protracted historical past of bringing lawsuits towards gig financial system corporations, together with Uber, Lyft and Grubhub, for reportedly misclassifying employees.

“Uber is claiming that the regulation does not apply to it, which does not cross the straight face check,” Liss-Riordan mentioned in an electronic mail. “The state of California has spoken — each via its Supreme Courtroom and its legislature — that employees have to be paid truthful wages and that employers like Uber can’t keep away from their obligations below the regulation.” 

Uber drivers are at present categorised as unbiased contractors, typically known as gig employees, which implies they do not get advantages together with Social Safety, medical insurance, paid sick days, employees’ compensation or extra time. Many drivers say this technique has led to exploitation. The invoice that handed this week, AB 5, aims to provide such protections by shifting gig employee classification to worker. As soon as it is signed by California Gov. Gavin Newsom, the regulation is slated to enter impact on Jan. 1, 2020.

Tony West, Uber’s chief authorized officer, mentioned throughout a press name with reporters Wednesday that he does not imagine Uber will likely be beholden to the regulation.

“As a result of we proceed to imagine drivers are correctly categorised as unbiased … drivers won’t be routinely be reclassified as workers, even after January of subsequent 12 months,” he mentioned.

Liss-Riordan’s lawsuit, nonetheless, is asking the courtroom to put an injunction towards Uber requiring it to categorise its drivers as workers. The grievance says Uber needs to be required to pay its California drivers minimal wage, extra time and expense reimbursements.

“Uber is a multibillion greenback firm,” Liss-Riordan mentioned. “It may afford to pay its employees correctly if it desires to proceed its enterprise.”

If Uber does not reclassify its drivers as workers in California as soon as AB 5 goes into impact, it will doubtless face a slew of different authorized battles from drivers throughout the state. West mentioned Wednesday the corporate is ready for such fits.

“Uber is not any stranger to authorized battles,” he mentioned. “We function in a really regulated atmosphere and we acknowledge that there will likely be authorized challenges on all fronts.”

“I believe it is nearly previous is prologue right here,” he continued. “I believe it’s an atmosphere that we’ve got gotten fairly used to.”

Some legal professionals say Uber will face an uphill battle with these employee classification lawsuits.  

“In classification disputes, employees are in a much more favorable place when the hiring entity has to show their classification of somebody as a contractor was proper, slightly than the employee having to show it was flawed,” mentioned California-based employment regulation legal professional Bryan Lazarski. However, he added, “modifications employees can truly see might take many extra years and lots of extra authorized battles to attain.”          

Uber did not reply to requests for remark.

Initially printed Sept. 12, 5:01 p.m. PT.
Replace, 5:49 p.m.: Provides remark from legal professional Shannon Liss-Riordan.    

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