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Here's whats going on with all of those Uber lawsuits
Fusion - 16 June 2016 By Kristen V. Brown

Uber is being sued by so many people right now that it can be hard to keep track. Last year, 50 lawsuits were filed against Silicon Valley's favorite start-up in U.S. federal court alone-and since then, still more suits have been filed, while others have settled.

Some of these suits could spell big trouble for Uber. Many of the cases challenge Uber's basic business model, arguing that that Uber misclassifies drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees. Right now, though, Uber seems in a rush to quash its legal troubles, having made settlement offers on at least four cases already this year, totaling up to $146 million. This could be a sign that Uber has an IPO on its mind: the company definitely won't want to be dealing with a bunch of potentially business-altering lawsuits when it makes its public debut.

Because it can be a challenge to keep track of all of the different people who have a beef with Uber, here is a handy guide to everything going on right now with all of Uber's major suits.

The big class action suit
Back in 2013, attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan hit Uber with a big blow when she sued the company on behalf of about 385,000 current and former Uber drivers in California and Massachusetts, arguing that Uber was obligated to give them the kind of pay and benefits usually afforded to employees. The case was finally slated to go to trial this month, but in April Liss-Riordan negotiated an $84 million settlement, to be paid out to drivers based on how many miles they had driven (it would go up to $100 million if the company goes public).

The settlement, though, was controversial, attracting criticism from both drivers and the San Francisco judge overseeing the case that the proposed deal doesn't do enough for drivers. This week, Liss-Riordan offered to cut her own $21 million attorney's fee by almost half in order to help the settlement go through. For now, the case waits in limbo for the judge to either approve or deny the settlement. The judge hinted at an earlier settlement hearing that he is likely to reject the deal, citing concerns that it could put the kibosh on other litigation against Uber and make it harder for drivers to sue the company in the future.

All those other employment classification suits
For Uber, employment classification lawsuits have become a game of legal Whack-A-Mole: as soon as it looks like one may be taken care of, another one pops up. Earlier this month, a group representing 5,000 Uber drivers in New York City filed a lawsuit arguing that drivers were misclassified as independent contractors by the company. In Boston last week, yet another driver filed a similar suit. At least eight other employment classification cases are pending in states including Indiana and Texas. Four others have been sent to arbitration, where drivers can bring individual claims rather than seek a settlement as a class.

The background check suit
In 2014, a Boston driver filed a class-action suit against Uber in San Francisco, arguing that the company had conducted illegal background checks and then terminated drivers from its platform after obtaining consumer background reports without authorization. Wednesday, on the eve of Uber's appeal of a 2015 ruling in the case that found the company's arbitration agreements with drivers were not enforceable, Uber agreed to shell out $7.5 million to settle the suit. That settlement awaits approval from the same San Francisco judge as the employment class action litigation. (Interestingly, Liss-Riordan had asked the judge to stay the case, fearing that it could interfere with her own class-action case's settlement.)

Those rider safety suits
That Boston Uber driver was not the only one to take issue with Uber's background check practices. In April, the company coughed up $10 million to settle allegations by California prosecutors that the company misled riders about the quality of its driver background checks, with the stipulation that it pay an additional $15 million if it fails to comply with settlement terms aimed at improving safety within two years. And in February it agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle similar litigation brought by customers. After that suit, Uber renamed its "Safe Rides Fee" to a "Booking Fee" in the app.

The Austin suit
After Uber and Lyft pulled out of Austin, Texas on the heels of a failure to overturncity rules requiring drivers with ride-hailing services to be finger-printed, last week a pair of former drivers brought a lawsuit alleging that the companies violated federal law by failing to properly notify drivers of the shutdown. The suit, filed in San Francisco, could force both companies to pay out wages and benefits drivers would have earned during the legally required 60-day notice period. But more importantly, it is yet another challenge to Uber's assertion that its drivers are independent contractors, arguing that drivers are entitled to the benefits and job protections of employees.

17,830 Posts
Great article.
Uber On the Run.
She's wrong about one thing- No IPO on the horizon that I can forsee.

If TK had had any brains at all, he would have sold out to his VCs in a private sale 18 months ago or more.

854 Posts
Uber has had some wins in the last week - One Lawsuit and two regulatory see items 2 and 3.

1. Panel of Judges rules Driver Arbitration Agreement (ADR - Alternative Dispute Resolution) is ok (enforceable).


2. In California Uber cars don't have to be registered as Commercial.

http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202760598954/UberBacked-License-Bill-Clears-Committee-After-a-Quarrel?kw=Uber-Backed License Bill Clears Committee, After a Quarrel&cn=20160622&pt=News Alert&src=EMC-Email&et=editorial&bu=The Recorder

Uber-Backed License Bill Clears Committee, After a Quarrel
Cheryl Miller, The Recorder

June 21, 2016

SACRAMENTO - Legislation to exclude Uber and Lyft drivers from California's commercial vehicle regulations passed a Senate policy committee Tuesday, but not before the chairman lashed out at colleagues and the governor for "advancing policies that lead to a monopoly" for the ride-hailing industry.

"There isn't a bill in support of [Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc.] that this governor probably wouldn't sign," said Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego. "And there isn't a bill that this Legislature wouldn't support. And I think that's very, very unfortunate."

The target of Hueso's immediate ire was AB 828, a response to a January 2015 advisory memo issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles that said even occasional use of a car for ride-hailing services triggered the need for commercial registration.

Such a designation would mean more expensive registration fees, insurance and likely car-financing costs for drivers. Backlash to the memo from so-called transportation network carriers was quick and loud, and within a week, the DMV retracted its memo and said more study of the issue was necessary.

AB 828, backed by Uber and Lyft, states that existing law does not require ride-hailing drivers to register their cars under the commercial designation.

"Obviously this is a decades-old statute that never contemplated this business model," said Will Gonzalez, a lobbyist for Uber. "This is a simple updating of the statute."

The bill sailed through the Assembly last year with just a single no vote. But Hueso bottled it in his Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee last summer, saying he wanted to hold a hearing on the broader impacts of the ride-hailing industry in California. That hearing took place in February and with a legislative deadline approaching, Hueso freed AB 828 for a committee vote Tuesday-but not without grilling the bill's co-author first.

"[Taxi drivers] can use their vehicles for their own purposes. … Why don't you exempt the taxis from this bill?" Hueso asked Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell.

"I'm focused right now on the transportation network companies," Low responded.

"So you think it is absolutely important for the state of California, for our economy, for consumers, for public safety to subsidize a $68 billion company?" Hueso continued.

"I don't agree with your assessment, senator," Low said. "We're not subsidizing the industry."

Hueso's brother runs a San Diego taxi company, a fact that the senator said "the industry made sure they let every media outlet know [about], as if it matters, because it doesn't." Hueso has emerged as the Legislature's leading critic of ride-hailing company, a position that often puts him in the minority in a body that has generally embraced the sharing economy's political agenda.

AB 828 passed out of the Energy Committee on a 6-4 vote. It now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Hueso's committee is scheduled to consider another ride-hailing bill next week. AB 1360, which has also been bottled up by Hueso for almost a year, would condone ride-hailing companies' carpooling services.

3. See Article on page 4 on thread with picture of Frank Sinatra. Chicago Council caves.


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