Four taxi drivers are suing Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”), the popular transportation start-up, in a $5 million class-action lawsuit for allegedly violating St. Louis licensing regulations.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (“MTC”), which regulates taxicabs, their drivers, and taxicab companies operating in St. Louis, allowed Uber to conduct business in St. Louis as long as Uber drivers followed the same rules as all other taxi drivers, which include obtaining a specific chauffeur’s license and being fingerprinted, which is required by the MTC’s Vehicle For Hire Code (“Taxi Code”). On November 12, 2015, taxi drivers compliant with the Taxi Code filed a lawsuit against Uber after the company launched its service using drivers not compliant with the Taxi Code; i.e., drivers who had not obtained a chauffeur license or were not fingerprinted. Plaintiffs claim that they have seen a 30% to 40% drop in revenue due to Uber’s illegal operation. According to Gary Growe, Esq, who represents the taxi drivers, the purpose of the suit is “to recognize that Uber is operating illegally and as a result of that, the existing taxi drivers are being harmed.” The MTC also filed a suit against Uber seeking a restraining order barring Uber from operating in St. Louis, arguing that the drivers’ failure to be fingerprinted was a danger to the public.
In another chapter in Uber’s legal battle, California recently became the latest state to deliver a decision on the issue of Uber’s practice of classifying its drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. On September 10, 2015, officials at California’s Employment Development Department (“EDD”) determined that an ex-Uber driver should have been classified as an employee, not an independent contractor. In June 2015, the California Labor Commission, which investigates wage claims, decided that an ex-Uber driver was entitled to unpaid wages. These decisions, however, only apply to the individuals involved. On August 16, 2013, three Uber drivers sued Uber in Northern District of California alleging that Uber unlawfully withheld driver’s gratuities and failed to reimburse them for expenses due to Uber’s misclassification of their employment status. For more information about this lawsuit, visit this link. On December 9, 2015, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to add a second class of individuals to the class action, which now covers more than 160,000 California drivers.
It is important to note that Uber also has had its victories in misclassification proceedings; the company says that labor and employment boards in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Indiana, Texas, New York and Illinois, issued decisions stating that drivers are independent contractors and not employees.
If you have any questions or concerns about your employment rights, please contact The Harman Firm, LLP.