Uber Can’t Escape|Drivers’ Class Action

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge let four of seven class action claims against Uber survive, and gave employees 21 days to amend the three he dismissed.
     U.S. District Judge Edward Chen on Friday denied Uber’s motion to dismiss claims of Massachusetts tips law violations, unjust enrichment, and tortious interference with contract. Uber did not seek dismissal of the claim that it misclassified drivers as independent contractors.
     He dismissed with leave to amend claims of breach of contract and violations of Massachusetts minimum wage and overtime laws, as insufficiently pleaded.
     The original lawsuit was filed in Massachusetts by former drivers Hakan Yucesoy and Abdi Mahammed, who accuses Uber of misclassifying drivers as independent contractors and keeping their tips. The case was transferred to Northern California because of a contract clause requiring lawsuits to be handled in San Francisco.
     Uber sought dismissal by claiming it is “abundantly clear” in its contracts that no portion of fares are intended as tips for the driver and that it bills the customer on defined invoices with no express gratuity charge.
     “Uber argues that the statutory definition of ‘tip’ only covers separately invoiced payments, but Uber is wrong,” Chen wrote, in refusing to dismiss the claim.
     Chen cited Massachusetts’ broad definition of gratuity and Uber’s failure to cite a single supporting case regarding tip laws in the state.
     The class accuses Uber of misinforming customers that tips are included in the fare, and claim that but for Uber’s misinformation customers would tip, as is customary in the taxi industry.
     In a ruling in a separate class action last week, Chen called Uber’s contracts with its drivers “ unconscionable ” and said it cannot force drivers to settle disputes in arbitration.

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