June 22, 2015
A former Uber driver in San Francisco was a company employee and not an independent contractor, the California Labor Commission ruled June 16. Reversing a previous ruling from 2012, the commission said Uber is “involved in every aspect of the operation,” as it controls the app drivers use to connect with passengers and can fire drivers by terminating their access to it if their ratings fall below 4.6 stars.
The new ruling upholds an award of about $4,000 to Barbara Ann Berwick, who worked as an Uber driver for about two months last year. If it’s upheld on appeal, or if courts rule against Uber in other pending lawsuits in California, the company would be liable for paying Social Security, workers' compensation, and unemployment insurance for drivers—costs it’s tried to evade by claiming the drivers are independent and it’s just enabling them to find fares through the app. Read more