When Uber entered the market, it began to revolutionize transportation. However, along the way it has faced obstacles that in many instances have found Uber in court. One major issue it’s facing is the claim by drivers that they are improperly treated by Uber as independent contractors rather than employees.
In a current class action on the issue, Uber scored a big win recently with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling the class action could not proceed, and the plaintiff-drivers are bound by their arbitration clauses and must proceed with their cases not just in arbitration, but individually as well, rather than as a class. Uber’s victory was assisted by the recent U.S. Supreme Court case Epic Systems Court v. Lewis, which found individualized arbitration clauses to be valid.
Plaintiffs often seek class actions as a way to combine the resources of several potential plaintiffs, which also helps the lawyers who bring those actions. Class actions also often help plaintiffs obtain greater recoveries. Because of this, it’s no surprise Uber fought to have the claims brought individually and through arbitration.
While the case doesn’t apply nationwide, it is certainly helpful precedent for Uber. They will certainly look to use this ruling to bolster their arguments in any other cases to potentially bring them some relief from the barrage of lawsuits they’ve faced.
While this case is a big win for Uber, it is also demonstrative for other companies that may face similar issues. It is also an early sign of the impact the Supreme Court’s decision in Epic will have on arbitrations and class actions by independent contractors or employees going forward.