Uber said on Thursday that a lawsuit filed by drivers should not continue as a class action, with the service citing statements of support from hundreds of other drivers in a case that may well decide if they’re independent contractors or employees.
Three drivers have sued Uber in a San Francisco court, saying they are employees and entitled to be reimbursed for expenses such as gas and maintenance. The drivers currently pay those costs themselves. If it continues as a class action, the lawsuit may cover more than 160,000 California drivers.
Uber pushes back on lawsuit
The outcome of the legal battle may impact the so-called sharing economy, as companies say the contractor model provides flexibility that is important to their success. A finding that drivers are employees may raise Uber’s costs and force it to pay Social Security, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.
In a court this week, Uber filed statements from over 400 drivers in support of the company. Two drivers said that if they’re Uber employees they wouldn’t be able to work for multiple ride services.
Uber drivers “have little or nothing in common,” the company claims, as they all differ in the way they engage with the company. Some hire subcontractors while others have their own transport companies, and those factors make the case unmanageable to proceed as a single class action, Uber said.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said it is “not surprising” that Uber has support from several hundred drivers. “More than a thousand drivers have contacted our firm who are very unhappy with how Uber has treated them”, she said.
In previous filings, the plaintiffs stated that Uber has enough control over its drivers, include the ability to terminate them, for them to be considered as employees. That similarity should be enough for the case to proceed as a class action, attorneys said.
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.