Uber faces US nationwide class action lawsuit

Uber, the taxi and courier company that relies on freelancers, has been hit with a US nationwide class action lawsuit that could have ramifications for the EU as well. The company has just settled a $100m class action lawsuit in California.

The new lawsuit states that drivers have been misclassified as independent contractors, and this will determine whether their pay and conditions are fair under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court of Illinois, and alleges that Uber should be considered as the drivers’ employer – not as a client. Uber released a statement that said, “Nearly 90% of drivers say the main reason they use Uber is because they love being their own boss.

“As employees, drivers would have set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and lose the ability to drive with other ridesharing apps – as well as the personal flexibility they most value.”

Industry observers expect that the new lawsuit – like those filed in California and Massachusetts – will end in a settlement, although this may be several years yet.

Many countries in the EU have similar laws that define whether a driver is in fact an employee, contractor or freelancer, regardless of the contracts that they have signed to work with the client. Essentially, if the contractor / freelancer is working over a set number of hours a week they are considered to fulfil a category of work in employment law regardless of their contract. A number of high profile businesses in the creative industries have fallen foul of such regulations in the past, and if there are similar issues among freelance drivers and couriers there could be similar actions against courier or taxi companies in the coming years.

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