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Attorney for plaintiffs in Uber employment misclassification suit seeks class-action status

Previously, an individual who was in need of transportation had to look up and call the number of a cab service who then dispatched a taxi driver to a customer's location. Today, ride-share car services like Uber and Lyft are taking the place of traditional taxi services and drivers by connecting people in need of transportation with motor vehicle owners in their area via an app-based system.

In the case of Uber, what began as a San Francisco start-up company has today expanded globally with operations in numerous cities and 57 countries. Recently, the company has come under fire for how it classifies its drivers. While Uber's website states that drivers are "independent contractors," who can enjoy being their own bosses while getting paid "just for helping our community of riders get rides around town," some drivers argue that they should be classified as employees.

Uber maintains it is a technology company that provides an app through which motor vehicle owners and those in need of a ride can connect. Questions have been raised, about the level of control Uber has over its drivers with regard to training, compensation and how they do their jobs. Uber, however, contends there is great diversity among its drivers and that drivers work when they want and may work as much or as little as they like.

Recently, an attorney who represents three plaintiffs who assert they are employees and not independent contractors with the pioneering ride-share giant; filed a suit seeking class-action status. If granted, the lawsuit would unit some 100,000 Uber drivers and force the company to classify drivers as employees and pay the related payroll taxes and benefits. Additionally, if granted employee status, Uber drivers would be afforded protections from workplace discrimination and harassment and workers' compensation benefits.

In response to the suit seeking class-action status, Uber argued that the plaintiffs have failed to "show drivers themselves share common ideas about their relationship with the service." To make this point, Uber has already gathered declarations from some 400 drivers who assert they are happy with and confident in their independent contractor statuses.

Source: Forbes, "Uber Says Drivers Oppose Lawsuit That Would Make Them Employees," Daniel Fisher, July 9, 2015

Forbes, "Uber Pushes Back Against Potential Class-Action Suit, Says There Is No 'Typical' Driver," Ellen Huet, July 9, 2015, July 9, 2015

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