More than 12,000 Uber drivers filed a California lawsuit claiming that Uber purposefully delayed arbitration requests. Uber drivers are considered contractors by the company. The drivers claiming that Uber is delaying arbitration requests are making an assortment of complaints, including: minimum wage violations, failure to pay overtime, etc. At the rate the complaints are being processed by the company, it would be a decade before all the complaints were heard.
Uber, like thousands of other companies, requires their drivers to sign an arbitration agreement that limits dispute resolution to company-direct handling instead of going through the court system. Uber’s 21-page terms and conditions does include an option to opt-out of the clause, but it has to be done within 30 days of signing the original agreement and it must be done in writing.
Drivers dealing with the potentially decades long delay are getting fed up with decreasing pay and their questionable status as independent contractors (instead of employees who enjoy more protections through employment law). 12,501 of Uber’s drivers have filed a California lawsuit including allegations that Uber ignored requests for arbitration. According to the suit, there have been 300 pages of partners requesting arbitration and only 47 have been appointed arbiters. Of those appointed arbiters, only six have seen the arbitration process move forward.
Legal counsel involved in the case suggest that this is a typical trend amongst corporations in this situation and has been for decades in the U.S. They insert this type of clause in a mandatory arbitration agreement specifically to block class action lawsuits. When asked about the case, Uber declines to comment. Originally, the case was brought as a class action lawsuit in multiple states addressing driver status as independent contractors vs. employees. Complaints (in numerous states) range from failure to pay overtime, to minimum wage violations, to failure to provide sick leave, etc., which would all be required if the drivers were classified as employees.
If you need to discuss how to qualify for a California class action lawsuit or if you need to file a lawsuit due to overtime violations or minimum wage violations, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.