Uber has lost another cases over the categorization of its fleet of drivers – whether they are employees or contractors.
Reuters reports that the California Employment Development Department (EDD) has ruled that a former Uber driver was in fact an employee, not a contractor.
Uber’s general stance has always been that it’s a software company. Uber connects people wanting a ride to those offering a ride. It’s a logistics company. Uber simply connects third-party contractors with customers. Its drivers are independent contractors, not employees.
The agency’s ruling reflects what we’ve heard in a couple of similar cases – that Uber basically controls every aspect of the operation.
Here’s the full justification:
The evidence showed a distinct and strong right to control by the appellant USER in the manner and means in which these services were provided. The appellant had complete control on who could obtain the services, The riders could only obtain the services by entering into a contractual agreement with USER, The claimant was not involved in these transactions, The employer/appellant communicated directly with the client or rider and established the pick-up and destination points of the trip. The appellant, UBER, had sole discretion In determining the amount to be charged for the services and when and how to
collect these charges. Only UBER could make adjustments to the charges and decide requests for reimbursements,
The claimant, once logged on UBER application Indicating readiness to work, was informed of the requested trips. She could only provide the services to those riders referred by USER and could not pick up other riders on the street who were not processed by UBER’s application. The claimant could not obtain or develop her own clientele, UBER also determined which drivers will be offered the trips, The claimant was not told of the destination until she arrived at the pick up point.
The appellant, UBER, had absolute control in determining the compensation the claimant would receive for the services. The appellant established a percentage to be paid to the claimant, and whether or not at certain times this percentage rate will change, was decided by the appellant. The time and method of payment for her services were determined by the appellant. The claimant was paid in a weekly basis through direct deposit to her bank account, The appellant provided the claimant with a weekly statement reflecting the trips done, amounts collected for services and amounts disbursed to her.
There was clear evidence of supervision and right to discharge at will The claimant had to he approved by USER in order to become a driver. She had to submit to background checks as required by UBER and had to complete tutorial videos, The claimant’s work was also supervised through regular reports containing customer service ratings, The claimant was warned when the numbers In her customer service ratings were below the acceptable number as established by the appellant. She was warned of deactivation when her acceptance of trips fell below the minimum percentage required by the appellant, The appellant had, In fact, deactivated the claimant’s account, not allowing her to use the application to obtain work, when she failed to provide certain documents required by the appellant.
Every aspect of the trip completed by the claimant for the clients of UBER were controlled by USER without the claimant’s intervention. The claimant was authorized to provide services in a specified area by the appellant. The only aspect of the trip left to the rider’s discretion was the route. Even in those cases, If the claimant had deviated from the suggested route by the appellants applications, she might need to explain the reasons.
Based on the evidence and given consideration to all the factors used to determine an employment relationship pursuant to section 621 of the code and principles established by relevant precedent case law, it Is concluded that there was in fact an employer/employee relationship between the claimant and the employer/appellant.
According to Reuters, Uber appealed this specific decision twice to no avail.