By Dan Levine : huffingtonpost -excerpt
SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 1 (Reuters) – Uber drivers are entitled to class action status in litigation over whether they are independent contractors or employees, a key development in a case threatening Uber’s business model and that of other hot startups dependent on similar service workers.
Three drivers sued Uber in a federal court in San Francisco, contending they are employees and entitled to reimbursement for expenses, including gas and vehicle maintenance. The drivers currently pay those costs themselves.
The results of Uber’s legal battle could reshape the sharing economy, which is built around Internet companies that serve as marketplaces matching people who provide a service with others looking to pay for it.
In the ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen in San Francisco said California drivers could sue as a group on the question of whether they are employees or contractors, and over their demand for payment of tips that were not passed on to them. Drivers’ attorneys must submit more evidence to sue as a group for reimbursement of other expenses... (more)
Class-action lawsuit means long, ugly battle for Uber
Uber previously said that it will appeal class-action certification, but the worker-misclassification trial can proceed regardless of continuing disputes on the class issue. In the ruling, Chen certified some claims but not all, excluding for now more recent drivers who signed an arbitration clause.
Still, attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who represents the drivers in the case, said Chen’s decision is “a major victory for Uber drivers. It will allow thousands of Uber drivers to participate in this case, as well as to attempt to recover the tips that Uber advertised to customers are included in the fare, but are not in fact distributed to the drivers.”