Last week in Dallas, Uber Black drivers went on strike and refused to pick up cheaper Uber X fares. For those not familiar with the difference, Uber Black is the higher end service with nicer cars while Uber X is cheaper. Uber Black drivers did not want to drop their fares and a deal was eventually reached.
Uber has had a tough go of it in the courts and public opinion the last few months. Recently, a lawsuit was filed in Dallas over a driver related assault putting Uber’s practices under the microscope.
In April ago we discussed the California class action asserted by Uber drives claiming that they were employees not independent contractors. That class has now been certified meaning Uber drivers may move forward with their class action against Uber. Uber of course was hopeful that the judge would not certify the class and dismiss the case. Though class certification is not ruling on the merits it is a required first step for a class action. In many instances, cases will settle (like any other lawsuit) between class action and trial but expect the Uber lawyers to try and knock out as many of the plaintiffs’ claims through discovery and summary judgment practice.
The implications are huge for Uber. It and other taxi alternatives like Lyft are buit on the independent contractor model. Employees are much more expensive than contractors and if Uber was forced to pay its drivers like employees its bottom line would be impacted. The challenge for the Uber lawyers is resolving the case with an admission or judgment that finds Uber is an employer. We’ll continue to monitor the California class action and other cases against Uber.