Uber drivers protest in front of their San Francisco headquarters, claiming they have not been treated fairly by the ride-sharing app. (Connor Hunt/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Uber lawsuit heats up, judge grants more drivers class-action status

Potentially thousands more drivers may now join a class-action suit against tech-giant Uber, after a court ruling today.

In a decision rendered Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Edward Chen, a class-action lawsuit arguing Uber’s drivers are not independent contractors, but are employees, was widened.

Previously, drivers who signed an arbitration clause with Uber were not permitted to join the suit. The attorney litigating against Uber, Shannon Liss-Riordan was pleased with what she called a “significant ruling.”

“This ruling will allow many thousands more Uber drivers to be covered by this case,” Liss-Riordan wrote in a statement.

Previously, Uber argued that some of its drivers signed an arbitration agreement with the company – meaning they essentially signed away their right to sue. Today, Chen ruled Uber’s 2014 arbitration clause to be unenforceable and expanded the class to include the drivers who accepted it.

Liss-Riordan said those drivers may have “unknowingly” accepted it. Chen wrote “the Court disagrees with Uber’s assertion” related to arbitration.

Chen also certified plaintiffs’ “expense reimbursement claim,” essentially meaning now drivers can seek recompense for vehicle-related and telephone expenses.

That may be a boon for workers, who publicly have cited gas costs, repair costs, and even purchasing mints as the type of costs which add up to eating away at their bottom lines while driving for Uber.

Chen’s earlier decision allowed drivers who joined Uber prior to 2014, when drivers signed an arbitration clause, to join the suit. The class action previously granted only addresses the question of whether drivers are employees or independent contractors and if they should be allowed tips.

The case is O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et al., and we’ve embedded a PDF of the ruling below.

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ChenOrderExpandClass (PDF)

ChenOrderExpandClass (Text)

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