The app-based transportation network Uber continues to face legal troubles, as three lawsuits have been brought in the last month on behalf of Uber passengers. The San Francisco-based company is also facing a class action lawsuit in which a class of drivers says the company failed to pay them as employees. Jillian Boyce, of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah, discussed the drivers' lawsuit in a previous post.
Class action lawsuits relate to a specific area of law, and many people are not aware of how class actions work. Here let's go over the basics.
Uber Technologies Incorporated ("Uber" or the "Company") is a company that provides a virtual marketplace, via website or cell phone application, for passengers to find available drivers. A class of drivers that utilize Uber to find customers is bringing a class action suit against the Company before Judge Edward Chen in the United States District Court for the District of Northern California. The class claims that Uber did not pay its drivers the full gratuity amount that Uber built into the price it charges customers and that the class members should have received as employees. Uber has filed for summary judgment, claiming that the drivers are not actually employees and are, therefore, unable to sue the company.1
"Don't tattle." That's the admonition many children receive while growing up. At least it used to be. The idea behind the reproach has been that telling when someone did something wrong was seen as being some sort of violation of loyalty or a nasty ploy to get someone in trouble.
The United States Department of Justice ("DOJ") has brought another claim of Medicare fraud under the U.S. False Claims Acts. The DOJ has accused Creekside Hospice II, LLC in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Skilled Healthcare in Foothill Ranch, California, of treating non-terminally ill patients in order to gain excessive reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid. Creekside and Skilled Healthcare are subsidiaries of Delaware corporation, SKG.1 Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce Branda said companies often abuse Medicare's hospice system and that "[t]he department will take swift action to protect taxpayer dollars and make sure that Medicare benefits are available to those who truly need them."2
The Employment Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, commonly called ERISA, is a federal law that establishes standards for protecting the retirement funds of millions of Americans who work in private industry. There is no requirement under ERISA that employers must provide a pension plan, but employers who do establish retirement plans -- a 401(k), for example -- must the meet the minimum standards under the law.
In October we discussed a New Jersey bill that, if passed into law, would reduce penalties for some companies that commit technical violations of the state's Consumer Fraud Act. One aspect of the bill, which you can read more about in our previous post, allows companies to avoid having to pay plaintiffs' legal fees and other costs if the violation in question did not result in loss to the consumer.