The Third Circuit revived claims asserted by UberBlack drivers that Uber misclassified them as independent contractors to deny them proper minimum and overtime wages. The trial court had granted summary judgment in Uber’s favor. Now, the drivers will go to trial to prove whether they are, in fact, employees.

The three judge panel vacated U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson’s April 2018 decision granting summary judgment to Uber Technologies Inc., saying there isn’t yet a cut-and-dried answer to the question of whether UberBlack drivers are employees or independent contractors, so the dispute should be allowed to go to trial.

The plaintiffs drive for Uber’s higher-end service UberBlack, which offers rides in luxury sedans or SUVs. Uber has maintained throughout the litigation that the drivers are entrepreneurs who are in business for themselves. Uber also contends that the drivers provide a service materially and wholly different from the business that Uber operates in — which is the development and licensing of its smartphone-based ride-hailing app — and acted at all times in their own interest and for their own advantage while also deriving their revenue from multiple streams.

Meanwhile, attorneys for the drivers have hailed the decision as a major win, describing it as the first court of appeals decision to address the proper classification of gig-economy workers under the FLSA.

Travis Lenkner of Keller Lenkner LLC said March 3rd on Twitter that under this ruling, “it is difficult to imagine how Uber and other gig companies can avoid trial on any of their workers’ misclassification claims.”

The appellate case is Ali Razak et al. v. Uber Technologies Inc. et al., case number 18-1944, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.


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U.S. District Judge Edward M. Chen, from the Northern District of California, rejected Uber’s motion to dismiss a driver’s suit alleging he was misclassified as an independent contractor and shorted on wages under a new California law. It remains to be seen how many drivers in the putative class are covered by Uber’s arbitration agreement.

Judge Chen kept alive most of the driver’s claims in light of Assembly Bill 5, which was signed into law in September and was set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020, which codified the so-called ABC test that the California Supreme Court adopted in its April 2018 decision in Dynamex Operations West v. Superior Court of Los Angeles. The decision imposed a stricter three-pronged test on employers looking to classify workers as independent contractors, who have fewer workplace protections than employees.

The case is Colopy v. Uber Technologies Inc., case number 3:19-cv-06462, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.


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Uber Technologies Inc. has agreed to pay $20 million to nearly 14,000 drivers to settle a class action lawsuit alleging that the ride-hailing company misclassified those drivers as independent contractors. The settlement only includes drivers in Massachusetts and California that did not have arbitration clauses in their contracts with Uber.

In 2015, a California federal court had certified a class of 240,000 California drivers. In 2016, that court was presented with a $100 million settlement that included the Massachusetts drivers. But the court rejected the earlier agreement, taking issue with the resolution of the Private Attorneys General Act claims in the case. That case was later greatly diminished when the Ninth Circuit ruled in September that Uber’s arbitration agreements with class waivers were valid and enforceable, reversing the lower court’s finding to the contrary.

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 for the Northern District of California.


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