Uber e-mails reflect company’s brash reputation

By Carol Said : sfgate – excerpt – (includes exhibits and videos)

Uber

Uber reps pose with MADD on the steps on SF City Hall while state judge rules Uber emails are admissible and release them to the public. Uber says they plan to donate $1 to MADD for every person who types in the promo code “Think and Ride.”

Uber’s brash reputation evidently extends to the way its managers talk about drivers. In forceful and sometimes crudely derisive language, Uber bosses discussed when to fire drivers for the on-demand ride service, according to internal company reports and e-mails.

Uber was compelled to produce the documents as evidence for a class-action lawsuit by California drivers seeking to be considered Uber employees rather than independent contractors. The company sought to have them kept under seal but a federal judge ordered them made public. The judge heard arguments Friday about whether the case should be dismissed, but made no ruling.

The documents illuminate a sometimes-contemptuous culture that would make a human resources manager cringe…

A win by the drivers could seriously affect Uber and Lyft’s bottom lines. The companies could be obligated to pay drivers’ operating expenses such as gas and vehicle maintenance. The Uber lawsuit’s lead plaintiff told Reuters that his annual expenses topped $10,000. The companies could also be on the hook for Social Security, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. As of December, Uber had more than 160,000 active U.S. drivers in 161 cities, it said in a report this month. Lyft, which is in 60 cities, has not released its driver numbers.

“They think they’ve come up with a brilliant new model by which they can shift onto workers all the expenses of having a business,” Liss-Riordan said. “California law doesn’t allow them to do that.”…

In Thursday’s hearing on the Lyft drivers’ case, U.S. District Judge Vincent Chhabria said that California law appears to favor the drivers’ contention that they are employees, according to Reuters, but he didn’t issue a ruling… (more)

Ride Share riders and companies oppose AB 612 and AB 2293 which seek to deal with insurance issues. video on CBS channel 13.

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