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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