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Uber Misclassification of Drivers and California Labor Law Class Action

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A common issue in labor class actions is the misclassifications of employees as independent contractors when they are really employees. The complaint for this class action brings suit against Uber Technologies, Inc. for a number of labor violations that spring from the alleged misclassification of its drivers as independent contractors. 

The class for this action is Uber drivers who have worked for Uber in California.

The California Legistlature has passed a law known as Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) “which codifies the 2018 California Supreme Court decision … under which an alleged employer cannot justify classifying workers as independent contractors who perform services in its usual course of business.” 

The intent of the law, the complaint says, is to stop companies “including specifically Uber,” from misclassifying employees as independent contractors. However, the complaint alleges, “Uber has publicly stated that it intends to defy this statute and continue to classify its drivers as independent contractors—in violation of the express intent of the California legislature.”

The complaint argues, “Drivers perform a service in the usual course of Uber’s business, since Uber is a car service that provides transportation to its customers, and drivers … perform that service.” Its revenues come from the service that drivers provide. The complaint says, “Without drivers to provide rides for Uber’s customers, Uber would not exist.”

The complaint cites other signs that Uber drivers are employees: 

  • They are governed by many policies and rules set forth by Uber. 
  • Drivers are not required to possess any special skills other than the ability to hold a driver’s license.
  • They are hired for an indefinite amount of time. 
  • Uber sets the rates of pay.
  • Drivers must undergo training required by Uber and meet Uber’s quality standards.
  • Uber may make promotional offers that reduce drivers’ incomes without their permission.

If drivers are indeed employees, then Uber is violating California labor laws in a number of ways. 

For example, Uber does not pay drivers for expenses incurred while working for Uber, for example, the maintenance their vehicles, gas, insurance, or phone and data expenses. 

Uber does not make sure drivers earn at least minimum wage for all hours that they drive, after taking deductions from their pay. 

Uber also does not pay proper overtime rates for hours worked over eight in a day or forty in a week.

Uber also does not provide proper itemized pay statements to its drivers. 

The complaint asks, among other things, for a declaratory judgment stating that Uber drivers are employees and that Uber must comply with the California Labor Code and Wage Orders. It also seeks expense reimbursement, minimum wage and overtime payments, and so on.

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