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Uber Loss Highlights Workers’ Rights in Changing Times

New Technology Does Not Supersede Basic Employees’ Rights Says Court

Hammer and sickle isolated on white background. With clipping path.
Hammer and sickle isolated on white background. With clipping path.

Uber faced a major blow in court recently after those driving using the service sued for benefits. Uber and its similar competitor Lyft have argued that such workers are not employees, but rather contractors. Both have been challenged in court and in two different decisions, federal judges have declared that the decision could only be decided by a jury, rather than a judge. Furthermore, the California Labor Commission’s decision against Uber in June 2015 placed it on even shakier ground.

More than likely, unless Uber wins the appeal, they are done in California. There is no way they will be able to comply with the regulatory quagmire that is the Golden State, and many many many people will become unemployed. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles. California chose to follow a Marxist/Progressive path, and the former Uber employees will likely seek unemployment and be forced to sue Uber to prove they were employees to begin with. How Uber and any other private company that is not in bed with government can actually survive in California, is beyond me. But my job is to report the news, not decide policy.

The case’s hearing officer declared that Uber was not simply a piece of technology that enabled drivers to build a new form of transportation. Instead, Uber’s practices were laid bare. These included having drivers pass a background check, registering their car with Uber, giving Uber their personal information, including bank account and Social Security information.

Furthermore, passengers pay Uber directly and Uber pays the drivers a “non-negotiable service fee.” For the Labor Commission, as reported by the NY Times, the drivers are in fact employees. In the end, the driver was granted $4,152.20 for their time driven and tolls.

Are You “Really” An Independent?

The case is just one of many occurring regarding semi-automated taxi services. The archaic nature of federal and state regulations means that there will likely be more cases in the future, especially as word of the Labor Commission’s decision spreads. The practice of issuing such employees 1099s instead of a proper W-2 can also open many tax and liability issues for both drivers, Uber, and Lyft. On top of that, now that drivers have been found to be employees, the chance of recovering damages from the large corporations after an accident increase. This area is a Wild West form of emerging innovation and legal consequences.

If you have driven for Lyft, Uber, or a similar service, or have been mistreated by these companies or their employees, you may have legal recourse. Michael Ehline is an expert in transportation law and regulation and is one of the foremost personal injury attorneys in Southern California. Based from the greater Los Angeles area, Ehline Law will come to you anywhere in the state to hear your case and give confidential advice. They work on contingency, not asking for any money unless we recover for you. Contact them for more information. Call or email them today– they answer the phone 24/7! (213) 596-9642.

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