Juries Will Decide if Uber and Lyft Drivers are Employees

Supplementing my earlier post, in separate rulings yesterday, both Uber and Lyft failed to satisfy United States District Court judges that their drivers are independent contractors and not employees [see Cotter v. Lyft Inc., 13-cv–04065, and O’Connor v. Uber Technologies Inc., 13-cv–03826, U.S. District Court, N.D. Cal.- San Francisco]. The result is that the technology firms will now have to convince juries that they do not exert sufficient control over the drivers so as to make them employees. If the juries find that the drivers are employees, Uber and Lyft (and perhaps other firms that have similar business models) will be required to pay employment taxes, provide workers’ compensation benefits, and be subjected to other California employment laws as well. Originally, the plaintiffs in both cases sought class certification on behalf of all drivers nationwide. Earlier, however, both courts ruled that the litigation should affect only California drivers.

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