COURT: Uber Drivers Are Employees

Via USA Today:

In a ruling that could significantly raise costs for ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft, the California Labor Commission ruled this week that a driver who filed a complaint against Uber Technologies was an employee, not an independent contractor. The driver, Barbara Berwick, was awarded a mere $4,152 — chump change for Uber. But the technology giant is appealing the ruling because it could significantly increase the $40 billion startup’s costs.  Uber currently saddles its drivers with major vehicle costs — including the vehicle itself, maintenance, insurance and gas — by labeling its drivers independent contractors rather than employees. If Uber is forced to treat drivers as employees, it could bear a greater share of those costs, which will eat into its profits.  Uber has consistently held its global fleet of drivers at arms length by claiming it is merely matching drivers with riders. But the California Labor Commission this week said Uber also maintains a good deal of control over its drivers, which makes it more of an employer than “a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation.”

Uber plans to appeal the ruling, which they say is “non-binding and only applies to one driver.”

  • Jonathan

    I won’t use Uber, they’re parasitic. Is the actual goal to pay people as little as possible while raking all of the actual profits for the few (80) actual employees they have? These app based companies have VERY few actual employees but have skirted employment law by labeling them as “Independent” Bullshit.

    • Paladin SF

      What if people willing ingest the parasites?

    • crewman

      I hear you and largely agree. On the other hand the taxi company strangleholds on cities is horrendous. They deliver horrible service. I’ve liked the disruptive presence Uber and Lyft offer to the taxi industry.

      • Estrafalario

        But it’s grossly unfair that taxi drivers (many solo operators) are regulated while Uber gets a free pass. It’s just unfair by any standard.

        • Paladin SF

          So then reduce regulation on taxi drivers. The reverse will just cut the supply of drivers raising costs to utilize the service.

          Furthermore, when is business supposed to be fair?

          • Randy Ellicott

            So just reduce the regulations…. yeah that always leads to better product and a happier consumer….

          • cleos_mom

            And probably more accidents but as every libertarian knows, those always happen to other people.

          • McSwagg

            As a consumer, how do I know that the driver (taxi or uber) is insured? How do I know the car is in good mechanical order? How do I know the driver is not criminal or psychotic?

            Regulations should be about an even playing field and safety for the consumer. It may be that the taxi business is over-regulated, but Uber is just making an end-run around reasonable regulations with their business model.

            With most taxi companies that I know of, the driver is an independent contractor who leases his/her vehicle from the taxi company. The taxi driver and the vehicle are required to meet certain minimum standards that Uber skirts.

          • Goodboy

            Good point. Most Uber drivers are not properly insured and don’t get paid enough to maintain their cars.

            Their background checks are a joke. They’ve done news reports of convicted felons with warrents being allowed to drive.

          • Cody

            LOL. Have you ever been in a cab? Most of them are about to lose their wheels…in SF anyway. I much prefer taking Uber/Lyft to/from airport. Friendly drivers, nice cars, and half the cost. Plus they show up at your door within minutes and you don’t need to have cash on you (I can’t count the times that I’ve been told by cab drivers that their credit/debit card machine isn’t working).

            Another plus about Uber is that you can rate your driver and the rating is readily available to the consumer.

            I will continue to support Uber and refuse to use an outdated, expensive, greed-filled system such as Yellow Cab or DeSoto.

          • dramaticartchild

            Exact so. When is business supposed to be fair? And that, folks, is the problem with market-based solutions to human life.

          • TreGibbs

            Disaster ensues.

          • Estrafalario

            Business shouldn’t be fair but regulation should be equal and fair.

      • Uber is a fantastic idea. The problem is that they’re horrific to their employees and skirting all the regulations. Way too far the other way away from the hugely-regulated super-conservative taxi industry.

        There has to be a middle ground somewhere.

    • Cousin Bleh

      The driver gets 80 percent of the fare, and Uber gets 20 percent.

      Your definition of “little as possible” seems off.

      • Porkie

        When I worked through an agency they took around 20 percent…..but they certainly worked for it; phoning out, billing, acounting and receipting, helping with castings, sorting out go sees and freebees, as well as finding accommodation abroad and arranging transport plus generally being wonderful …..so do I think UBER is ripping off it’s enslaved minions for 20 percent? ….Well hell yeah.

        • Cousin Bleh

          Honestly, the comparison of Uber driver to fashion model is too dumb to formulate a serious response.

          • Porkie

            Agreed…..but as nobody is querying Uber’s taking a cut for it’s services, just the percentage of that cut, so in that respect a comparison could be pertinent

          • Cousin Bleh

            So you’re saying that building and supporting the technology platform that runs Uber costs less than ringing up some asshole fashion assistant to schedule go sees?

          • Porkie

            “Per unit” I bloody well hope so! lol ….can you imagine uber phoning up various frequent users just in case they might have need of a cab in the next 2 hrs!

        • BobSF_94117

          It seems to me the more pertinent comparison is with taxi drivers. I doubt they make 80% of their fares.

          • Porkie

            I can’t pretend to know diddley squat about driving a cab, but I think that taxi drivers might get the cab fully insured and fuelled from the company and maybe employee benefits etc….charging 20 percent just for a name seems steep to me….but it’s just a gut reaction.

          • BobSF_94117

            Well, it’s obviously not just a name, if you’re referring to Uber. There’s the information infrastructure that makes it work.

          • Porkie

            By “name” I mean, prospective client, …..sorry I wasn’t being very clear..

          • BobSF_94117

            Well, now I’m thoroughly confused.

            🙂

          • Goodboy

            I think the point is that they don’t do shit. There’s no dispatch or even an actual human to talk to. 25% is very steep and plain greedy.

            Especially, when you consider they keep dropping their driver rates.

          • BobSF_94117

            My experience with actual humans at dispatch is that they’re overworked, underpaid, unpleasant, and clueless. It’s not their fault, of course, it’s the cab companies’ fault. They’ve dumbed down the job, made cabs unreliable, and it’s not like they’re handing the savings over to the drivers.

      • CityWOOF

        Uber takes 25%, at least here in Chicago. LYFT takes 20% (and takes no percent at all if you drive a certain amount) and encourages riders to tip, which Uber doesn’t allow.

        • Cousin Bleh

          It’s my understanding that Uber takes up to 25% of UberX fares in some cities, which is part of the problem when talking about Uber… UberX, Uber Black Car, Uber Taxi, etc, are vastly different and no one ever clarifies which one they’re talking about!

          • Bill_Perdue

            One thing is not in need of clarification. Your statement that “The driver gets 80 percent of the fare, and Uber gets 20 percent. Your definition of “little as possible” seems off.” is scabbery.

            Uber drivers are employees and deserve a union, union wages and union benefits.

      • Bill_Perdue

        Your support for rich parasites getting richer is typical. You’re a thorough going rightist.

      • Goodboy

        Actually it’s more like 25% to 30% when you take out other expenses off the top like safe rider fees.

        Rates are typically about 1.00 / mile. The IRS deduction is .56 / mile for just wear and tear. Deduct gas, expensive insurance, and dead miles between customers and the drivers don’t make shit.

    • AndyinChicago

      Unlike a taxi, Uber doesn’t help drivers with car maintenance or with fees associated with time or cleaning. If you compare rates of pay for a cab driver versus and Uber driver after subtracting those feeds, Uber drivers are getting screwed over, no matter what they tell themselves.

      • Paladin SF

        What are the adjusted wages and what is the source?

      • CottonBlimp

        Have you talked to Uber or taxi drivers? It’s very much the taxi drivers that are getting ripped off.

        In NYC, purchasing the right to drive a taxi costs $1 million dollars. Obviously, that’s not something the vast majority of taxi drivers can afford; most of them rent “medallions” from corporate taxi owners. They have to pay companies to drive taxis which they don’t even own, and then the companies take a lot of the profit.

        The Uber drivers are annoyed that Uber changed the rates on them and now they make less, but the former taxi drivers are very happy that they at least get to own and drive their own car. None of it compares to renting a taxi and being in danger of actually LOSING money if you don’t get enough rides.

        • AndyinChicago

          From most of the articles I’ve read, it’s very different from town to town. There was a really great video here in Chicago when Chicago was named the town with the best ratio of uber rates to taxi rates talking about how when uber cuts fares, they do so at a cost to the drivers. There are tons of articles on both sides (Which you can google), but the ones that seem most convincing to me, meaning they have the most statistical analysis, seem to say that, at least here in Chicago, Uber’s pulling one over on the drivers here.

      • Goodboy

        All they get at the end is car that’s now a pile of worthless shit.

    • bkmn

      You make it sound as though they are using a Walmart business model.

    • Strepsi

      It never ceases to amaze me how many “progressives” I know just LOVE Uber because it’s a “disruptor of a corporate model” or some bull. Not that taxi systems don’t need reform, but compare this $40 BILLION startup to the taxi companies and I challenge you to find which is the really the exploitive corporate giant.

      WE (the citizenry) are responsible for this. I’ve worked in marketing for a decade, and almost every test for almost every product shows consumers will buy what is most convenient over what is better.

      • Goodboy

        Not to mention their head guy Travis Kalanic is a Ayn Rand disciple. Were talking old style capitalism where the worker is looked down upon and treated like shit.

        • Cousin Bleh

          That is the biggest load of horseshit posted on JMG in quite a while.

          • Goodboy

            She’s dead and burning in hell right now. Don’t worry though. You’ll be joining her soon enough.

          • Cousin Bleh

            Sweetie, there is no hell. I am not shocked you believe in such things given your propensity for fairytales.

      • Cuberly

        You said it so much better than I thought it.

        Thank you!

      • stevenj

        a “disruptor of a corporate model”

        They are physically disruptive in the sense that (at least in SF) they, Lyft, Sidecar, all the other ride companies, the tech busses and all the thousands of “task rabbits” running around daily have dumped thousands of extra vehicles on the already congested streets. Getting across town has become a nightmare especially during rush hours.

      • Moutica

        “Better” who are you to judge what is best for me or anyone else, I’m guessing you’ve never heard of subjective theory of value and I’m guessing you consider yourself a true progressive which to me is just a euphemism for statist/socialist/ communist

    • Bill_Perdue

      Uber drivers are employees and deserve a union, union wages and union benefits.

    • Stephen Elliot Phillips

      its why I said “fuck off” to ebay. I was a power seller on there until they started really screwing the people that make them the money…..the seller.
      ie the cabbie of uber

    • Moutica

      Go on YouTube and watch Uberman comment on this ruling, he’s upset because he likes the independent aspect and he knows if Uber is forced to call them employees he will make less money and lose the flexibility of the schedule. Always annoyed me how people like you just hate the concept of people freely associating..how would you like it if government mandated you used Uber..that’s how you sound to me when you are telling drivers they shouldn’t want to be considered independent.. If someone doesn’t like the independent aspect here is a nifty idea..go work somewhere else

  • Gyeo

    You can’t claim someone is an “independent contractor” and exert employer level of control on them. But you know, profit before people.

    • Paladin SF

      Like models are now all employees of the clothing companies they model for?

      • Gustav2

        They model for multiple companies not just H&M, Drivers only work for Uber.

        • Paladin SF

          May I ask why its illegal to be an independent contractor, if both parties agree?

          • Gustav2

            There are labor laws to protect the little guy…this is not the Wild West were you can do whatever the feck you please.

          • Paladin SF

            You mean the little guy as in the established taxi industry. Perhaps the taxi industries inability to innovate is the issue and the taxi company just wants a monopoly.

          • Gustav2

            Non-responsive. This is about labor laws not taxi laws.

          • Paladin SF

            I don’t want to work under certain labor laws. So its either your way or I volunteering my time?

            What gives you the right to decide if I want to spend the break at my desk or not?

            I find it interesting that give something away (aka volunteering to drive people around because I care) or fall under as a employee but do not have the freedom to contract my services for what I deem is fit.

          • Gustav2

            Just because you want to exploit labor doesn’t mean the rest of society will allow you to do so.

          • Paladin SF

            But I can volunteer my time?

          • Gustav2

            Again non-responsive.

            Libertarians live in their own special world where they can do whatever they please.

          • Paladin SF

            You still have not answered my question. If I volunteer as a driver for some senor program why am I then not a employee of the senior program making that social service responsible for my car maintenance, gasoline, repairs, and time spent driving back?

          • Gustav2

            No, but you are an ass comparing a volunteer service with a for profit business.

          • Paladin SF

            So the welfare of a person is determined on if the organization is for profit or not for profit?

            I believe labor law is supposed to protect the people correct? Where is my protection from the senior program?

          • Gustav2

            You are not a grown up.

          • Paladin SF

            That in no way answers the question posed.

            Why is okay to volunteer my time and sell it for what YOU deem acceptable but not negotiate my own terms.

          • Gustav2

            FREEEEE dumb.

          • Art

            Because voluntary charitable contributions are legal, whereas using personal contracts to violate labor law is not.

          • OCW

            Well this is not specifically addressing Uber, but when I managed a retail Borders Books, oftentimes the very dedicated employees wanted to come in and work off clock to catch up or just because they loved it. We did not allow that, because as employees they are legally (and ethically) entitled to be paid for any work they perform.

          • Art

            My understanding is that the issue of whether someone is a volunteer in California, at least in the eyes of the Labor Commissioner is whether the parties intended the relationship to be a volunteer relationship and whether the entity for which the work is being performed is organized as a non-profit entity. The Commissioner has issued at least one opinion in which it has stated that individuals cannot do volunteer work for for-profit businesses.

          • Art

            In California, you might be an employee, depending on how the senior program is organized. You could contact the Labor Commissioner and initiate a case, and the Commissioner may well determine that you are an employee and issue an order directing the program to reimburse you for your expenses and pay you for your time.

          • Art

            Yes, in California, people can volunteer their time for non-profit entities.

          • Art

            You can’t always volunteer. The Labor Commissioner has issued decisions finding that individuals can’t do volunteer work at for-profit corporations and businesses, for example, only for non-profit entities.

            As I said above, the reason you and the contracting party don’t just get to decide is because the relationship can be, and is often, used to circumvent labor laws in ways that deprive the state of revenue or exploit the worker.

          • Goodboy

            Nope. Just fair play.

          • Strepsi

            @ Paladin — because with 350 million people in the U.S., there is always someone who will do it cheaper (or in the case of acting, for free) so regulations help protect against total exlploitation of the workforce (even if said workforce agrees to be exploited).

          • Paladin SF

            Is it okay for my to volunteer my time? Does that not exploit the worker they may have hired for the tasks that I do?

            Or shall the IRS come after me?

          • Art

            I think I’ve answered this one above. But in sum, individuals in California can volunteer, under the decisions issued by the California Labor Commissioner, but only for non-profit entities. Work performed for other businesses must be compensated, either as an independent contractor or as an employee, depending on a fact-intensive, multi-factor test (which varies slightly depending on whether you’re talking wages, unemployment compensation, or workers’ compensation benefits). The intent of the individual and the entity to form a volunteer (or independent contractor) relationship is one factor in the determination, but it is not decisive, to avoid the parties using volunteer or independent contractor status to avoid state labor law.

          • Art

            In California, the intent of the parties is one of several factors that determine whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor. The decision isn’t solely left up to the parties, because defining the relationship in that way deprives the state of certain revenues and shifts some of the costs of doing business from the primary to the contractor in a way that can be exploitative if the two parties have unequal bargaining power.

        • CottonBlimp

          I don’t think that’s true. A lot of Uber drivers are also on the Lyft network.

    • Cousin Bleh

      Define employer level of control.

      • Goodboy

        Being able to fire people for arbitrary reasons. They fire their independent contractors all the time. Also, setting and manipulating prices. The drivers should be able to set their own prices. Not Uber.

        • Rick Tan

          Independent contractors are by design more disposable than employees.

        • Cousin Bleh

          Arbitrary reasons… you mean like for providing poor level of customer service?

  • Todd

    “Uber plans to appeal the ruling, which they say is ‘non-binding and only applies to one driver.'”

    I think someone should tell Uber that it’s not up to them to decide whether a ruling is binding and to whom it applies.

    • Art

      Todd, I am a California lawyer and I practice before the Labor Commissioner here. I’ve handled a number of cases like this (alleging that a company misclassified a driver as an independent contractor, rather than an employer). The assessment that it is non-binding and applies to one driver is very probably correct.

      The Labor Commissioner decides these cases on a case-by-case basis. A decision in one isn’t a decision in others. That said, I’ve never seen nor heard of a driver case that went to hearing in which the Commissioner DIDN’T determine that the driver was an employee, regardless of the circumstances.

      Uber can appeal the decision to the Superior Court, in which it gets a completely new trial on the issue. It just has to put up a bond for the amount of money awarded to the driver. It can even appeal that decision to the California Court of Appeal if it loses.

      Decisions of the Labor Commissioner don’t set a precedent that can be used against the losing party. Other drivers can refer to it in their cases, but no court or administrative hearing officer (like the Labor Commissioner) is bound by the decision in such cases. In other words, the Labor Commissioner and California courts aren’t bound by the decision to determine that all drivers for Uber are employees.

      • Todd

        That’s very interesting. Thank you for the detailed explanation. If Uber wants this decision to apply only to the one employee, it seems as if it would be opening a proverbial can of worms to appeal to a state court. My understanding (which is not complete I might add) is that a court’s ruling upholding the decision could then apply to all drivers, which is something Uber definitely does not want.

        • Art

          Actually, in my experience, the opposite is true. Where one person succeeds, many others may try to follow. By appealing the decision, the company introduces delay into the process and throws the outcome into question, creating grounds for a confidential settlement in which the case quietly goes away and the decision of the Labor Commissioner is never filed as a judgment. Where many drivers might have run down to the Labor Commissioner’s offices today to file their own claims, they may now wait, and the Commissioner may wait to hear their cases, pending the outcome of the appeal.

        • Art

          You’re welcome! Actually, a Superior Court decision would be binding on Uber, but it would still not apply to all drivers, as the test for whether an individual is an independent contractor is a multi-factor one that depends heavily on the circumstances.

          Divisions of the Superior Court in California are not always bound by the decisions of other divisions made in other cases, and I do not believe they would be bound here, so a separate case about Uber could reach a different result.

          Now, if the case were appealed to the California Court of Appeal and if Uber lost there, it would be in a much worse position, because Superior Courts are bound by Court of Appeal decisions. Given the same set of facts but a different driver, they would have difficulty reaching a different decision. So there is some risk of setting a precedent involved in pursuing an appeal beyond the Superior Court.

          Nevertheless, I can’t imagine they’re not going to start the appeal process. There is a VERY short window in which to challenge a Labor Commissioner’s decision (measured in days). Filing an appeal creates breathing room to negotiate a settlement, which can include having the Labor Commissioner dismiss the case altogether.

      • Goodboy

        Well, this is just on the heels of a lawsuit against Fed Ex. Same situation (employee vs independent contractor) and they lost big time. Same lawyers too.

        Uber and their lawyers will lose.

        • Art

          It’s true. In fact, in California, the Labor Commissioner has issued a number of decisions lately that find drivers in other contexts to be employees.

          There has been a concerted effort by unions in California, in conjunction with the Governor, to pursue companies who use independent contractor drivers (trucking companies, shipping companies, and companies like Uber) and force them, by means of law suits, legislation in the State Assembly, contracts, and regulatory action such as port tariffs to force those companies to switch to the use of employee drivers.

          Given the glacial pace at which the Labor Commissioner has been hearing and deciding cases lately, at least in Southern California, I doubt this case is a response to the Fed Ex case. It may, however, be a union-driven one.

          Regardless of the impetus, there has been a wave of decisions against companies who use independent contractor drivers in recent years.

  • Porkie

    “the ruling, which they say is non-binding and only applies to one ….”

    Now where have I heard that before, Florida wasn’t it ? and not too long ago.

  • Gigi

    I used, and LOVED using, Hailo, but then Uber ran them out of town. I haven’t heard many good things about Uber so I haven’t tried them yet. Does anyone have anything good to say about them?

    • CottonBlimp

      I never used Hailo, but I vastly prefer Uber to yellow cab.

    • CityWOOF

      LYFT is much better than Uber. You can try it for free with my code MARK7716.

      • Paladin SF

        Does Lyft pay for

        “the vehicle itself, maintenance, insurance and gas”

        if not then Lyft is part of the problem.

    • Cousin Bleh

      Here’s the thing about Uber that so often gets lost in the conversation: It is actually multiple services with varying degrees of quality.

      UberX is the privately-owned car service similar to Lyft. Its drivers can by rapey.

      Uber Taxi (yes, you can hail a taxi with Uber) is the most similar to Hailo. You get an actual taxi that belongs to a taxi service and the same quality you’d normally get from a cab.

      Uber Black Car is the premium service, so it will cost more. But the cars are superb and the drivers extremely professional. They typically drive for a private individual or a black car service, and they’re just picking up Uber fares while waiting around.

    • TreGibbs

      No. They suck.

  • bkmn

    When I lived in Minneapolis I tried using Uber a couple of times and after a no-show and being sworn at on the phone by another driver I made the choice to not use them again.

  • karen in kalifornia

    It’s not a court. It’s the California Labor Commission and from what I have read IS concerning this driver who brought the case for reimbursement of her expenses while driving for Uber. Likely to produce more reimbursement cases and most importantly, it’s not “sharing” if you have to pay for it.
    (Young people use Uber because they don’t have life experience to know that some regulation is good and necessary.)

    • Bill_Perdue

      Thank Bill Clinton and Reagan for the drive to deregulate.

  • Tor

    So treating people fairly will eat into Uber’s (vast) profits. I’m not going to weep too much over this.

    • Paladin SF

      From the article:

      “including the vehicle itself, maintenance, insurance and gas.”

      So Uber should pay for the drivers car, repairs, and gas expenses? You do know that this will result in a further decrease in % the drivers get correct?

      • Gustav2

        Shouldn’t the company share the expenses or because they are an App they get off like an third world country not paying decent wages?

        • Paladin SF

          Well, what are the wages that Uber pays and what is the source?

          • Goodboy

            As little as possible.

  • Suzy

    All of this just makes me excited for self-driving taxis. Neither established taxi companies nor these startups can really change the fact that driving people around all day is shitty, thankless, and largely exploitative work.

    • I don’t know about that. I’ve known a few taxi drives socially, and they seemed to enjoy their jobs most of the time. They loved meeting people they never would have had a chance to meet, nor had so many offers of sex before either.

      • Cuberly

        Have had a fair number of interesting taxi rides in my time. From fun to..really horrifying.

        But overall, I’m glad I’m giving someone a chance to make a decent living, w/ benefits.

        • I’ve had a few white knuckle rides myself. But on the whole have had largely positive experiences in taxis.

  • TheManicMechanic

    This should also put more teeth into making them more respectful of handicapped riders. You can’t simply sit on the side and let “civilians” bear the brunt of the responsibilities of your so-called business.

  • Timothy Kincaid

    They are desperate to kill any business model that empowers individuals instead of their fiefdom

  • Elsewhere1010

    Because the law is what we say it is, no matter what it really is.
    Signed,
    The BecauseWeSaySo Corp.

  • GarySFBCN

    They should have gone public when they had the chance. Buh-bye, disrupter.

    • Gustav2

      They will hang around for a while because they are a better service until someone else will build a better service that pays its employees.

      • GarySFBCN

        They’ve been such jerks that they should license their app to the taxi industry and be happy with that revenue flow.

    • brian

      Exactly what I was thinking. There goes their great IPO. Cuts their valuation by about 3 billion.

  • penpal

    Taxi drivers and taxi companies in Chicago provide absolute shit service. They’ll hire anyone with a pulse as long as they’re capable of driving like fucking maniacs, they don’t care whether a car picks you up when you arranged for one to get you to your flight, and if you call for a cab they’ll tell you one will be there in 45 minutes. My experience with Uber has been phenomenal. Better drivers, better service, better courtesy, better comfort, better peace of mind, etc, etc.

    • Goodboy

      They have a strict rating service as you know. The drivers have to perform even if they get paid for shit. All the while moving cheap customers around who complain and don’t bother tipping.

      • Cousin Bleh

        They don’t bother tipping because tips are built into the fare.

        You don’t seem to know much about Uber despite having some sort of obvious personal interest in this argument.

        • Goodboy

          Really. Where does it say tips are built in? Yes I’ve taken Uber and I have freinds that do it. You can’t tell me that an average $5 fare has room for a tip. So I tip.

          No doubt you’re just another cheap ass looking for a reason not to tip.

  • Canadian Observer

    Great ruling from the California Labor Commission – allowing an employer (Uber in this case) to pretend its workers are independent contractors is a recipe for impoverishing its employees. Having had an employer in a different industry (publishing) who tried the same crap, I hope that the Labor Commission has the ability to retroactively collect the employer’s share of support costs that go along with having employees… vacation pay, contributions to unemployment benefit plans etc. Unhappiness with how traditional taxi companies operate is no reason to be part of the cheering section for exploiters like Uber who are accelerating the race to the bottom for working people.

    • Art

      In California, it depends on what the driver asked for at the Labor Commission. If he or she asked for those benefits (the ones that flow to an employee, such as vacation days, and they are things that Uber was either required to give employees or was in fact giving to its employees), the Labor Commissioner likely awarded them. In the appeal, the driver might be able to seek them still. I haven’t thoroughly researched that part of the equation in my previous cases.

      And the state’s other agencies can certainly try to get unemployment insurance and other required employer costs out of Uber for this driver and other, similarly-situated drivers. It’s a very exciting and vibrant part of California law. When a company loses a suit like this, it can mean very little, and it can also mean the dam is about to break.

    • Goodboy

      Not to mention insurance and allowance for maintenance. Pisses me off the cheap ass people cheering for Uber while not giving a fuck about the drivers.

  • “independent contracting” is a legal obscenity propagated by corporations who have no choice but to do business in the US where we still have a vestige of effective labor laws. if they could, they’d treat us all like starving slaves, begging for a chance to pick lettuce in the desert for 5$/day. like they do in other countries where your goods come from, but never mind that.

    the idea of Uber has merit. i won’t deny i’ve had some very shitty medallion cab service.

    but there are reasons for regulation. reasons that include the employee, and the employer, and the community they are supposed to serve.

    argue too hard for Uber, and you’ll find yourself on the same side as the people who think gays shouldn’t be served, because jeebus. legally, it’s closer than you think.

  • TreGibbs

    Its about fucking time. Uber sucks ass. Yes, its cheap and “hip” but they also don’t vet their drivers and have caused untold thousands of disasters. Case in point: a dear friend “Jenny” was taking uber to a function. The driver ran a red light, an oncoming volvo wagon smashed the car, and shattered Jenny’s arm bone – from the elbow to the shoulder. Over 100K in medical bills and physical therapy and Uber’s response? “we aren’t responsible. They aren’t our employees. We’re just a networking service”

    Fuck you, Uber.

  • cleos_mom

    That’s the same cheapo gimmick newspapers used to pull with people who had paper routes. You had to pile a lot of mileage on your own car AND do your own collections.

  • gseattle

    To rob you of freedom.