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Uber argues in court that drivers want independence, flexibility

John Ribeiro | July 10, 2015
Uber Technologies gathered the support of over 400 drivers across California and a law professor to back its argument in court that its platform gives its contractors the flexibility and independence they want.

Justin McCrary, a professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, submitted as an independent expert witness retained by Uber's counsel that drivers use the platform in a variety of ways, under a variety of working relationships, so that "many current drivers who have used the Uber App for referrals would be harmed if it were commonly found that the use of the Uber App turned every driver into an employee of Uber."

Liss-Riordan said she was not surprised by Uber's arguments, including its claim that many drivers like working for Uber and the flexibility it provides. The law is clear that the relevant question is not whether people like the practice at issue but whether it is legal or not, and the mere fact that drivers can choose their hours does not make them independent contractors, she added.

Over a thousand drivers have contacted the law firm and are unhappy with how Uber has treated them and feel they have been taken advantage of, Liss-Riordan wrote in an email. "We look forward to bringing these arguments to the court in August," she added.

Uber has had its share of setbacks on this issue. In March, the court dismissed Uber's motion for summary judgment that the drivers were independent contractors. The California Labor Commission ruled last month that a driver of Uber was an employee and not a contractor, when driving for the company, and was hence entitled to reimbursement on certain expenses. The ride-hailing company said it had appealed the decision.

 

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