Uber drivers have been locked in a brutal fight to win their employment rights. However, Uber claims its drivers are independent contractors and not employees. By being labeled independent contractors, Uber drivers are unable to receive benefits like overtime pay or reimbursement for job-related expenses.
Recent California unemployment claims have resulted in victories for Uber drivers. In one case, a former Uber driver was granted unemployment benefits despite being labeled a contractor. California’s Employment Development Department granted the former Uber driver $9,308 in unemployment benefits.
This is not the first lawsuit to target Uber’s stance on contractors. In 2015, another California Uber driver was granted unemployment benefits.
Are Uber Drivers Employees?
Unfortunately, these are only two cases, and they have not established a precedent for defining the employment status of Uber drivers. The California Labor Commission made an administrative decision to define these two Uber drivers as “employees”. An actual court would have to make the same decision for Uber drivers to be considered employees across the board.
Fortunately, a class action lawsuit is currently underway in California. If the federal judge presiding over the case were to decide Uber drivers are to be considered employees, it would have far reaching implications, unlike the two decisions made by the California Labor Commission.
Uber would have to grant drivers certain benefits, such as health care and reimbursement for job-related expenses. The California Labor Commission’s prior decisions could be used to strengthen the argument that Uber drivers are employees.