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California Says Uber Driver Is Employee, Not a Contractor

California Says Uber Driver Is Employee, Not a Contractor

Old Jun 17, 15, 3:54 pm
  #1  
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California Says Uber Driver Is Employee, Not a Contractor

This is a potential devastating blow to Uber's business model in California.
California Says Uber Driver Is Employee, Not a Contractor

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The ruling, made June 3, came to light after Uber filed an appeal Tuesday evening. The ruling ordered the company to reimburse Barbara Ann Berwick, a former Uber driver, $4,152.20 in expenses and other costs for the period when Ms. Berwick worked as a driver.

Uber has long positioned itself as a “logistics company,” an app that drivers and passengers use merely to facilitate private transactions, and not a transportation fleet with tens of thousands of employee drivers. The company argued it did not exert any control over the hours its drivers worked and did not require drivers to complete a minimum number of trips, according to the court filing.

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”Defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation,” the ruling states. “The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.”

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Classifying Uber’s drivers as employees may turn out to be an even bigger roadblock to the company’s business than regulatory changes because it could change Uber’s cost structure, requiring it to offer health insurance and other benefits, as well as paying salaries. On-demand companies have been premised on the idea that people who find piecemeal work through these online marketplaces are freelancers, not employees entitled to costly benefits.

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Old Jul 12, 15, 10:10 pm
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I bet this gets knocked down on appeal. If it stands, it could apply to all websites that act as intermediaries, including for example temp work sites (Mechanical Turk et al) and even AirBnB. Maybe even sites like KickStarter!

Sounds like some superior court judge got rather carried away.
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Old Jul 13, 15, 6:47 am
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Originally Posted by RichardInSF View Post
I bet this gets knocked down on appeal. If it stands, it could apply to all websites that act as intermediaries, including for example temp work sites (Mechanical Turk et al) and even AirBnB. Maybe even sites like KickStarter!

Sounds like some superior court judge got rather carried away.
Whether it will or not is fairly random IMHO. However, the judgment accords well with how its customers use, and think about, Uber. They rent an Uber, not Joe with the Nissan. They pay Uber and Uber sets the price. The only personal bit of service is done by the driver, much the same as a bus, a train or, dare I say it, an airline.
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Old Jul 13, 15, 11:20 am
  #4  
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One of the problems with calling Uber drivers employees is that many of these drivers are registered with multiple app-based services. They take a fare through one, and then the next through another. How can they be employees of all of these services?
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Old Jul 18, 15, 1:44 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by dhuey View Post
One of the problems with calling Uber drivers employees is that many of these drivers are registered with multiple app-based services. They take a fare through one, and then the next through another. How can they be employees of all of these services?
They could certainly be considered to be part-time employees of multiple entities.
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