Suit: Uber delays drivers’ le­gal fights

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

Some 12,501 Uber drivers are “lan­guish­ing in ar­bi­tra­tion pur­ga­tory,” ac­cord­ing to a law­suit claim­ing the com­pany is de­lib­er­ately ne­glect­ing to pay fees re­quired to get their out-of-court process started.

This, the suit ar­gues, af­ter Uber suc­cess­fully de­feated drivers’ ef­forts to sue as a group in court for bet­ter pay and ben­e­fits, forc­ing them to re­solve dis­putes in ar­bi­tra­tion.

Uber is ob­li­gated to pay the costs of ar­bi­tra­tion, ac­cord­ing to the suit filed in fed­eral court in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia.

As a re­sult of its de­lay tac­tics, Uber owes $18.8 mil­lion in ar­bi­tra­tion fees, based on $1,500 per driver. Uber spokesman Matt Kall­man de­clined to com­ment.

The ar­bi­tra­tions stem from a 2016 ap­peals court de­ci­sion rul­ing Uber’s ar­bi­tra­tion agree­ments with drivers are largely valid and en­force­able.

Uber has long fought to clas­sify its drivers as in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors in­stead of em­ploy­ees, sad­dling them with ex­penses, such as car mileage and main­te­nance, while the com­pany saves money by avoid­ing the cost of ben­e­fits in­clud­ing sick leave and health in­sur­ance.

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