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Uber Faces Another Wrench in California Labor Law

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Los Angeles, CAUber has already violated a few California labor laws, most recently misclassification. Last month another wrench was thrown into Uber and potentially other “shared economy” start-ups. The latest lawsuit filed in federal court claims that the Silicon Valley-based company owes its drivers California overtime pay.

Greg Fisher, an Uber driver and Los Angeles resident, claims that the start-up company owes him overtime pay for periods when he drove longer than eight hours. Fisher has asked the judge to grant class-action status, which means that other drivers could join him as plaintiffs in the California overtime lawsuit.

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office in June 2015 ruled that Uber drivers were misclassified. They are employees and not independent contractors. Uber, now a $50 billion company, has appealed the decision. Of course any employee in California who works more than eight hours in a day is entitled to overtime compensation. But many unemployed Californians would likely rather work as independent contractors than not work at all: Uber has threatened to close shop and in early July, it filed a motion to oppose a class-action lawsuit claiming that more than 160,000 of its drivers should be classified as employees and not independent contractors. Uber argues that, should the class-action suit be successful, it “could force Uber to restructure its entire business model,” according to Time.

The latest battle involves public safety and security. California officials claim that Uber does not adequately screen its 160,000 or so drivers, unlike taxi drivers who undergo fingerprinting and rigorous background checks. Los Angeles lawmakers are currently debating whether to allow Uber drivers access to Los Angeles International Airport. But district attorneys in L.A. and San Francisco said they had identified 25 Uber drivers with convictions for murder, assault, driving under the influence and other offenses, according to the Los Angeles Times. Inadequate screening has been alleged in a consumer protection lawsuit against Uber filed by San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascón and Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey.

One can only imagine how many more wrenches are in the works...


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