Law Offices of Louis Spitters

Several courts divided on employment dispute with Uber drivers

The growth of ride-sharing apps has been a boon for some and a source of confusion for others. There have been several recent court battles, including here in California, concerning separate employment dispute lawsuits that have been filed against Uber. The growing popularity of these types of sharing applications may be negatively impacted once this dispute is eventually settled.

The dispute revolves around whether Uber has properly classified its drivers as independent contractors. The contracts between these two parties is referred to in the company's legal language as a business partnership, and the company is not obligated to provide all of the benefits and legal protections that typically apply to employees. However, part of the dispute hinges on whether Uber exerts undue influence over how drivers conduct business while operating their vehicles for the ride sharing app.

According to the language used in the contracts, drivers are free to set their own hours and can choose their schedules. They are likewise entitled to seek additional employment with other companies while still working as Uber drivers. Drivers have contended that they are employees because Uber does dictate how drivers interact with passengers, and they are sent tips for correction when they fail to follow the established guidelines. Furthermore, drivers can be dismissed if they are deemed to have violated company policy frequently.

There have been several lawsuits concerning the issue of Uber employee status throughout the country. Judges have come to different conclusions with no clear ruling as to whether this employment dispute will be resolved in the near future. There is speculation that if drivers are legally defined as employees, it could dampen the growth of other sharing platforms that have sprouted up in various service areas such as grocery delivery and home improvement projects. California workers who are unclear as to their employment rights due to ambiguous contract language are assured of their rights to seek the guidance of an employment law professional in order to determine the best options for finding a clear and suitable solution. 

Source: Forbes, "Are Uber Drivers Employees? The Answer Will Shape The Sharing Economy", Omri Ben-Shahar, Nov. 15, 2017

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