Uber, the major online transportation company, has resolved two class action lawsuits by drivers who wanted the company to make changes to improve work conditions and provide Uber drivers with “employee” status. The lawsuits were filed in California and Massachusetts.
Uber, which is based in San Francisco, CA, provides online car services across the country. However, the company’s drivers do not receive any of the benefits or protections usually afforded to employees because they are currently classified as “independent contractors.”
If the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuits had been successful at getting Uber to significantly change its policies and pay drivers as full-time employees going forward, it is likely that the drivers would have qualified for certain mandatory employee benefits, status and rights, including Workers’ Compensation coverage.
Although Uber did make certain concessions to the plaintiffs in the lawsuits, the company did not make any concessions on the major issue of whether drivers will be classified as employees. In order to offset this refusal to provide drivers with certain rights that are only afforded to full-time employees, Uber agreed to allow drivers who have disputes with the company to seek resolution through an arbitration process instead of needing to go through the litigation process. Beyond that, Uber has pledged to start workers’ associations that will benefit the company’s drivers – although these associations may only be available to drivers in California and Massachusetts.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick attempted to justify the company’s decision not to provide drivers with employee benefits and protections by saying that drivers “value their independence.” At the end of the day, however, Uber’s refusal to classify drivers as employees likely comes down to money. The company’s operating expenses would have gone up significantly if Uber drivers had been classified as employees, not independent contractors.
The settlement was filed in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco and will still need to be signed off on by the federal judge presiding over the cases.
For further information, see the Yahoo.com article, “Uber Settlement Keeps Drivers as Contractors in 2 States.”
If you were injured or suffered an illness while working in New Jersey, you may be entitled to Workers’ Compensation. The NJ Workers’ Comp process is complex, so it is crucial that you talk to a qualified Workers’ Compensation lawyer before making any final decisions about how to proceed. The knowledgeable Workers’ Comp attorneys at Team Law can help you get the benefits you are entitled to. Contact us now for a free consultation.