We have tons of Uber related content on our website. Just use the search tool and you will find over a dozen different stories on our site. In this post, we summarize the most recent developments and whether or not you may be eligible for a settlement check. This is the page that gets updated constantly.
#1 The California and Massachusetts UBER Settlement
There have been dozens of lawsuits against UBER. Although some looked like they were getting traction, most ultimately failed. They didn’t fail because on the merits, they failed because the courts decided that the arbitration and class action waivers contained in the drivers’ agreements supersede our Constitutional right to a jury trial.
Written in 1789, the 7th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says, “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”
In plain English, the Constitution guarantees everyone the right to seek redress in the courts. We say drivers should have the right to have their case heard by a jury of their peers. The courts, however, say that drivers can waive those rights as long as the waiver is made knowingly.
Does anyone read the fine print online contracts? Probably only a few do but the courts say it’s okay for big companies to bury waivers in the fine print. If you click on the “I Agree” box, you waive your rights.
Many lawyers – us included – fought the good fight. We lost. We say that big companies shouldn’t be able to deprive drivers or consumers of their Constitutional rights.
In 2016, a group of drivers in Massachusetts and California nearly settled a large class action that sought to classify Uber drivers as employees. The company says they are independent contractors.
The classification of drivers is important. Independent contractors aren’t entitled to minimum wages, health insurance, overtime, retirement, unemployment or other benefits. Ultimately, the courts ruled that by simply clicking on the driver’s agreement, most drivers waived their rights to sue or participate in a class action.
That meant most drivers were left in the cold. A small group of approximately 11,000 drivers and 2,600 drivers in Massachusetts had opted out of these harsh waivers found buried in the driver’s agreement. This small group of drivers were able to settle in March of 2019.
The scaled back Uber settlement for drivers who opted out will provide $20,000,000.00 in relief spread out over 13,600 drivers. The average settlement per driver is approximately $2,206.
We say “scaled back” settlement because in the original lawsuit, some 400,000 drivers were impacted. Now it is just 13,600.
Drivers not included in the settlement will have to bring their grievances against Uber via private, individual arbitration. That is almost impossible because most lawyers won’t take an individual Uber case. Forcing arbitration and refusing to allow class actions allows the company to “nickel and dime” drivers with near impunity.
Although this case almost settled in 2016, it didn’t. In fact, it was so close that there is still a great deal of information floating around on the Internet stating the case settled. Technically it did settle but the court didn’t approve it. That means if you are reading that Uber agreed to pay $100 million, those statements are not accurate. Uber may have agreed to the proposed settlement but it wasn’t approved by the court.
Other aspects of the rejected settlement included:
- Uber agreed to no longer be able to deactivate drivers at will. Instead, the company said drivers could only be terminated for cause.
- Drivers would not be subject to deactivation for low acceptance rates.
- Uber agreed to appeal panels so that drivers who believe they have been unjustly terminated may bring their concerns to a panel of their peers.
- Drivers who were not satisfied with the result of these appeals could bring their claim to a neutral arbitrator, at Uber’s expense, who will determine if there was sufficient cause for the deactivation.
There was much more in the 2016 settlement, all of which sounds great for drivers. It’s important to remember that the court didn’t approve the settlement.
Who Is Part of the New 2019 Settlement?
The 2019 settlement only includes current or former drivers whoused the Uber smartphone application in California or Massachusetts between August 2009 and February 2019, and who opted out Uber’s arbitration clause.
Which Drivers Are Not Included in the Settlement?
The easy answer is easy, everyone else!
The official answer is drivers who have never used the App in either California or Massachusetts -or- drivers who are bound by Uber’s arbitration clause because they did not opt out of arbitration by submitting a valid opt-out request with thirty (30) days of receiving each version of Uber’s arbitration agreement.
#2 Dulberg vs. Uber – Fare Calculations and Upfront Pricing
This was a relatively small claim also brought as a class action. The lawsuit challenged the way Uber calculated fares. In July 2019, Uber agreed to pay $345,622 to a total of 4,200 drivers. Before legal fees, that equates to $82 per driver.
In actuality, the court calculated that roughly 1,300 drivers would get less money than the cost of mailing a check. Ultimately the parties agreed that each driver in the class would receive at least $20. The average check is $75.
#3 Federal Trade Commission Takes On Uber
In 2018, Uber drivers saw another small win. The Federal Trade Commission took issue with claims made by Uber over its auto leasing deals or how much drivers can expect in earnings. Uber agreed to pay $20 million and stop making unsubstantiated claims to drivers. Approximately 88,000 drivers are eligible for an average payment of $223.
The checks were mailed out in the summer of 2018. Those checks became void after 60 days.
#4 California Legislative Efforts to Protect Uber and Lyft Drivers
The biggest news may be the legislative efforts in California to protect Lyft and Uber drivers. In September 2019 California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 5, legislation that requires ride share companies to treat their drivers as employees instead of independent contractors. That means Uber drivers can expect unemployment, minimum wages, overtime, the right to unionize, workers comp, paid breaks and healthcare.
DoorDash, Lyft and Uber have promised to spend tens of millions of dollars to get a citizen’s initiative on the ballot in order to reverse the law.
It’s only fair to mention that several other states have passed legislation declaring ride drivers are independent contractors.
Reminder – We are not taking any new Uber cases. We fought the good fight on behalf of drivers, lost lots of money fighting that fight and ultimately lost. Hopefully Congress and the states will fix the problems made by Uber and made worse by the courts. That’s our two cents.
We cherish the opportunity to have represented so many hard working men and women.
** Did we forget any major class action settlements? Write to us, we are happy to report on major victories!