March 18, 2016

Do Fee Payments Make Uber Drivers Franchisees?

Brian H. Cole, Law Offices of Brian H. Cole

Are drivers for Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber) employees of Uber? And if not, might they be deemed franchisees? These questions have drawn considerable attention, both in courtrooms and elsewhere.

Trial is set to begin on June 20, 2016, in a class action lawsuit asserting that Uber drivers are indeed employees. See O’Connor v. Uber Technologies Inc., ND Cal., Case No. CV 13-3826-EMC, filed Aug. 16, 2013. The O’Connor case was certified as a class for all individual Uber drivers in California between 2009 and June 2014.

Meanwhile, on June 3, 2015, the California Labor Commissioner issued a ruling in Berwick v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Case No. 11-46739-EK, holding that the plaintiff, an Uber driver, was an employee of Uber and entitled to reimbursement of her expenses. (She had already received her “wages.”) Uber has appealed that case to the California Superior Court for the County of San Francisco. Case No. CGC-15-546378, filed June 15, 2015.

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