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Uber Black Drivers in Pennsylvania Fight Independent Contractor Classification

Published on Mar 4, 2020 at 7:21 am in News.

A group of Uber Black drivers in Philadelphia is being given another opportunity with their lawsuit against the company, alleging they’ve been misclassified as independent contractors. On March 3, 2020, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a summary judgment for Uber after the district court incorrectly determined the drivers were not employees as a matter of law.

The plaintiffs are alleging violations of the federal minimum wage and overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and corresponding Pennsylvania laws. The drivers believe “that time spent online on the Uber Driver App qualifies as compensable time under the FLSA.” Their principal argument for this is that Uber controls access and the use of the Driver App.

Uber Black is a premium ride option. With this luxury experience, passengers ride in a high-end black car or SUV with a professional driver who has to maintain a minimum rating requirement of 4.85 stars, be ensured commercially, and meet state- or local-level livery regulations. Passengers can request certain Ride Preferences to tailor the trip environment to their liking, which includes details on temperature, luggage support, and the level of conversation with the driver. In addition to that, Uber Black passengers have five minutes until they’re charged a waiting fee and up to 15 before a driver cancels. Premium Support is also available when riding with Uber Black.

According to the 3rd Circuit Court, the district court’s summary judgment was inappropriate “because genuine disputes of materials facts remained.” According to the law firm representing the drivers, this is the first court of appeals decision to address properly classifying gig-economy workers under the FLSA on a national level.

In a statement from Uber, a spokesperson had this to say regarding the ruling: “The 3rd Circuit Court did not rule that drivers using Uber Black in Philadelphia should be classified as employees; it merely found that there were fact issues that could not be decided in a summary judgment motion. We disagree with the 3rd Circuit’s opinion and we are considering all options.”

Regardless of the status of Uber drivers, it doesn’t change the fact that some are negligent behind the wheel. When an Uber passenger is injured because their driver failed to follow the rules of the road or acted recklessly, that passenger has the right to take legal action. Depending on the circumstances, the at-fault party could be the driver or Uber itself. Determining fault and seeking compensation is challenging, which is why we recommend accident victims seek guidance from the Rideshare Law Group. We represent clients on a national basis. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options.