Uber drivers scored a major victory against the ride-hailing company Tuesday when a California federal judge agreed to certify a class of Golden State drivers who claim they were mislabeled as independent contractors and cheated out of tips.
U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen found that Uber’s claim that drivers were all properly classified as contractors conflicted with its argument that the drivers’ experiences with the company were too different to merit class certification.
“There is inherent tension between this argument and Uber’s position on the merits,” the judge wrote. “[O]n one hand, Uber argues that it has properly classified every single driver as an independent contractor; on the other, Uber argues that individual issues with respect to each driver’s ‘unique’ relationship with Uber so predominate that this court — unlike, apparently, Uber itself — cannot make a classwide determination of its drivers’ proper job classification.”
The certification covers the tip claims of all UberBlack, UberX and Uber SUV drivers who worked for the company in California any time since Aug. 16, 2009, and who signed up with Uber under their individual names, were paid by Uber or an Uber subsidiary, and did not electronically accept any contract with Uber or its subsidiaries unless they timely opted out of that contract’s arbitration agreement, according to the order. It does not cover a proposed class under a California law that requires employers to indemnify workers for costs incurred on the job.
The case is O’Connor et al. v. Uber Technologies Inc. et al., case number 3:13-cv-03826 in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.