PHILADELPHIA – A group of UberBLACK drivers will be able to continue their class action, a judge recently ruled in a Philadelphia federal court.

The Uber limousine drivers, who are classified as independent contractors, are claiming they are not actually independent contractors and should be properly paid their “on-call” wages.

There are several class actions against Uber around the country about independent contractor classification, but this is the only case that brings the on-call wage issue into question.

In the case Razak v. Uber Technologies, the drivers say when they are on-call, they must log into the Uber App. The drivers are claiming that when they are logged in, they should be paid minimum wage and overtime hours.

“To tell whether the on-call time is payable or not, is whether they [the employees] are having interference of their personal pursuits because they are on-call,” Richard Reibstein, Partner with Pepper Hamilton, told the Pennsylvania Record.

In this case, Reibstein does believe their on-call hours may be payable.

"The drivers must be properly dressed, in their vehicle and be able to take calls," Reibstein said.

Uber lawyers filed a motion to have the case dismissed, claiming there is no way to tell drivers are actually working just because they are on-call.

On Dec. 14, Judge Michael Baylson dismissed the motion and is allowing the case to continue.

In the ruling, Baylson noted that plaintiffs claim “[d]rivers who refuse a fare are subject to suspension and termination.”

That means, if drivers are not prepared to work at the time they receive a call, they could lose their job and therefore must always be prepared when on-call.

Although a ruling has not been made on the claim itself, the judge’s ruling will likely have a significant impact.

There have been few cases of independent contractors using wage demands to challenge their classification.

“It is a big deal because many plaintiffs’ class-action lawyers have been focused on the Uber cases,” Reibstein said. “We’re likely to see more of these call-and-pay cases because of the notability of this case.”

Many companies now use a similar business model as Uber, using independent contractors instead of full-time employees. 

“The biggest takeaway for businesses using independent contractors is to take proactive steps to evaluate their level of independent contractor compliance,” Reibstein said. “This is a call for companies to enhance their independent contractor compliance.”

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