Posted by Catherine Caldwell.
The trendy new and convenient company, Uber Technologies Inc., is currently enduring a legal battle for its illegal classification of freelancers. Uber was founded in 2009, as an application that acts as an electronic link from individuals who have cars to individuals who needs rides. The company has received a reputation of convenience to its customers and an easy way to make profit for its drivers. However, attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, a powerful attorney in the state of California, disagrees with the classification of Uber drivers.
Shannon Liss-Riordan is no stranger in her attack on large billion dollar industries such as Uber. She has made cases against Starbucks, Harvard University and FedEx, to name a few. Ms. Liss-Riordan thinks that Uber drivers are unlawfully “on-demand workers” with no benefits. Instead of freelancers, Uber drivers should receive employee status, which would include drivers receiving reimbursement of their transportation expenses among other employment protective benefits.
As a software intermediary in the transportation business, Uber Technologies Inc. claims that they do not need grounds for titling their drivers as employees. Uber does not have a “fleet of drivers” waiting to pick up the next customer, but is based on convenience for both the drivers and employees. Uber does not plan on settling the case and has begun their approach by assembling 400 statements from drivers saying they were content with the flexible labor opportunities. However, in retaliation, Liss-Riordan took 50 of those statements and found that those drivers stated they would like to have official employment status.
In September, the case won class action status in San Francisco and will continue in federal court. Valued at $51 billion and is willing to fight for their case all the way to the Supreme Court and are unwilling to settle.
This case will create a precedent in the industry of software application employment services, and therefore needs to be handled very tactically. The basic labor protection laws should not be ignored due to new forms of introducing a business such as Uber. However, each Uber driver participates to make profits on their own agenda. Some use the service for extra cash, where others, in the grueling unemployment climate, use Uber as full time opportunities. In my opinion, the court should require Uber to create employment contracts with Uber drivers who can prove that it is a major source of income.
Catherine is a finance and information technology major at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2018.