Uber is once again facing the wrath of its employees. This time Uber is being sued by 96,000 drivers represented by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. The allegation against Uber consists of violating drivers’ contracts and stealing a part of their wages between 2011 and 2017. Drivers have claimed that Uber left the workers to cover their costs instead of the company by deducting sales tax and the Black Car fund surcharge.
It has also been claimed that Uber implemented upfront pricing in 2016, which showed the fixed price instead of the estimated fare. The lawsuit against Uber claimed that this upfront pricing showed the customer and the driver two different fares, which sometimes led to the passenger pay a higher price than what is reflected on the drivers’ screen, and the difference between the two fares go into Ubers’ pocket. This upfront pricing reportedly violates the contract.
Earlier to settle a legal battle by Ubers’ drivers, the cab-hailing company agreed to put a sum of $20 million as a settlement. The legal battle started when Uber stated that the drivers for the company were independent contractors and not Uber employees, and were not entitled to expenses and wage protection. Uber agreed to pay the settlement fees but refused to change their status to employees.
Back in 2016, a settlement amount of $100 million was offered by Uber but was ruled to be inadequate by the US District Judge Edward Chen. Initially, 385,000 drivers were involved in the lawsuit, but after Che’s rejection, Uber won an appeal to force drivers into arbitration.
Furthermore, the company offered the drivers involved a settlement of 11 cents per mile. The most recent by Uber covers 13,600 drivers, which means more settlement sum for every driver.
Now, the lawsuit represents a challenge. Uber drivers are forced to take disputes to arbitrations due to an Uber agreement. Although Uber’s contract prevents potential class-action suits like this, drivers involved in interstate commerce are exempted by federal law, so it is more likely that the lawsuit will go through since the Uber drivers are expected to drive interstate.
“Uber bosses are raking in millions while drivers struggle to feed their families,” states the executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance, Bhairavi Desai. She further added to her statement by saying, “Uber’s business model depends on exploiting vulnerable low-wage workers — including by stealing from driver pay. But time and time again, when workers fight back, we beat Uber even with all their billions.”
This is not the first time Uber’s been accused of such misbehavior with its employees. The company, in 2017, admitted calculating commission based on earning that included state taxes rather than the pretax amounts, although the company promised to repay the drivers, they refused to reveal how much.
Uber’s lockup period expired on November 6th, and the lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhatten on the same day. During this time, protests by the driver activists were done outside the houses of Bill Gurley, an Uber board member and an early investor, and one of the company’s founders, Garrett Camp.