Uber drivers are independent contractors, not full-time employees of the transportation company, a federal judge ruled on what is said to be the first classification of Uber drivers under federal law.
Reuters reported that US District Judge Michael Baylson said on Wednesday that Uber does not exercise sufficient control over drivers for their limousine service, Uber Black, to be considered their employer under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Drivers work when they want and are free to do whatever they want during trips, said Baylson.
A spokesman for Uber said the company was "pleased" with the judge's decision, while a lawyer for the plaintiffs said he would appeal the ruling.
Uber said the company is "pleased" with the judge's decision
Uber classifies its drivers as independent contractors, arguing that they are doing business for themselves and, therefore, are ineligible for traditional benefits such as overtime, minimum wage protections and health insurance. However, some Uber controllers contest that classification and argue that Uber's algorithm exerts too much control over their lives to see themselves otherwise. Many have sued Uber, but most of those cases have been sent to private arbitration.
In 2016, Uber agreed to settle two class action lawsuits challenging the classification of drivers for up to $ 100 million. A federal judge later rejected the agreement and said it was not fair or proper. That case continues to advance slowly in the courts.
Earlier this year, a federal judge in California ruled that GrubHub drivers are independent contractors, not employees. The ruling was seen as a great victory for GrubHub because of California's relatively high standard for establishing workers as independent contractors.