Uber Drivers’ Case on Track Despite Appeal

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge said he will not rule on whether a class of Uber drivers should be treated like employees until after the Ninth Circuit resolves a legal dispute over his decision to add 100,000 drivers to the class.
     Uber appealed U.S. District Judge Edward Chen’s ruling on Dec. 9 that expanded the sweeping class action to include drivers who had signed contracts with Uber in 2014 and 2015, but didn’t opt out of the arbitration agreement.
     He also found the arbitration agreement unenforceable because it contains a non-severable provision barring employees from acting as state representatives in labor lawsuits under California’s Private Attorneys General Act.
     Uber immediately appealed the decision, arguing that the unenforceable provision could still be severed.
     Chen said that while he didn’t find it likely that Uber would win its appeal, “a serious legal question has been raised by Uber.”
     In their 2013 lawsuit, former drivers claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors and therefore required to pay for their own gas, vehicles and maintenance. They also said Uber falsely told riders that a 20 percent gratuity is included in the fare, but failed to pass along the full share of tips to drivers.
     Chen also declined to delay trial in the case – set for June 20, 2016 – finding the minimal hardship to Uber outweighed by the class’ interest in getting their nearly three year-old claims resolved.
     “In its motion to stay, Uber has arguably raised serious legal questions,” Chen wrote. “However, Uber has not demonstrated that the balance of the hardships absent a stay tips sharply in its favor so as to warrant a complete stay.”

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