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Uber’s worker misclassification lawsuit must proceed as a class action, judge says

It is important to properly categorize employees (i.e. W2 vs. 1099). There are various civil and administrative penalties companies face when categorizing as contractors instead of employees and those who improperly categorize are being cracked down on.

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The drivers suing Uber claim they were employees, not independent contractors, and that Uber misclassified them. Also, the class will only include drivers for UberX, a service in which drivers use their own cars, and UberBlack, a high-end town vehicle service.

The ruling is “a very big deal”, said Beth A. Ross, an employment lawyer who won a similar case against FedEx Corp.

Uber had argued that the drivers should not be allowed to sue as a group because they have little in common and relate to the company in different ways. Some Uber drivers sign up directly with the company and others are subcontractors working for larger transportation companies. “Should the jury determine they are Uber’s employees… they are likely to be entitled to relief as a class at least with respect to the California tips law”.

“What the court said was, look, that [argument] might be good for the goal of the merits for the case, but you’re essentially admitting to the court that you treat everyone the same, which supports a finding for class certification”, Giamela said.

In arguing against class action status, Uber had submitted sworn statements from hundreds of drivers supporting the company.

“While we are not surprised by this court’s ruling, we are pleased that it has chose to certify only a tiny fraction of the class that the plaintiffs were seeking”, the Uber spokeswoman said. On Tuesday, a federal judge granted Uber drivers class-action status in their case against the company. In July, the company provided the court with 400 written declarations from drivers who say they prefer to be independent contractors because of this flexibility.

This is not the only court case Uber is battling, either, with two Uber directors in France accused of illegally handling data and misleading commercial practices earlier this summer. He denied their request to seek reimbursements for things like gas as a class-saying the four drivers might not be representing everyone’s best interest-but he also gave Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer representing the drivers, 35 days to file arguments convincing him otherwise.

Classifying its workers as employees could raise Uber’s operating expenses significantly and would go against its business model and identity.

One statement by Judge Chen in his ruling may be indicative of his view of the “gig economy”, which has also surfaced as a debatable point in the upcoming US presidential election.

Uber has stated before that its drivers want to be flexible and that employment status would change the nature of how its ride-hailing service operates.

Elsewhere, Chen bluntly dismissed Uber’s insistence that there is “no typical driver”, claiming thatthe company focused on “legally irrelevant differences” between its contractors and the plaintiffs behind the suit, and waved away the many testimonials it presented as “statistically insignificant”.

Original Post: http://www.dispatchtimes.com/uber-s-worker-misclassification-lawsuit-must-proceed-as-a-class-action-judge-says/78141/

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