Scales of Justice

Uber Drivers Win Class Certification

On September 1, 2015, Judge Chen of the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California certified a class of California Uber drivers who claim they were misclassified as independent contractors and cheated out of tips.

Judge Chen found that common issues of fact and law predominate with respect to the Uber drivers’ claims that Uber failed to pay drivers their fair share of customer tips. However, Judge Chen refused to certify a class of drivers claiming Uber failed to reimburse them for business expenses, saying the Uber drivers’ failed to establish adequacy with respect to that claim.

Ultimately, the Uber drivers still need to prove they were misclassified as independent contracts, as many of the Uber drivers’ claims hinge on the drivers’ employment status. Nevertheless, this is a victory for Uber drivers who surmounted Uber’s argument that the drivers’ experiences with the company were too different to merit class certification.  In response to Uber’s argument, Judge Chen found the following: “There is an inherent tension between this argument and Uber’s position on the merits.” “[O]n one hand, Uber argues that it has properly classified every single driver as an independent contractor; on the other, Uber argues that individual issues with respect to each driver’s ‘unique’ relationship with Uber so predominate that this court — unlike, apparently, Uber itself — cannot make a classwide determination of its drivers’ proper job classification.”

The case is O’Connor et al. v. Uber Technologies Inc. et al., case number 3:13-cv-03826, in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.