PHILADELPHIA — Lawyers for the transportation company Uber have moved for partial summary judgment in a lawsuit between the company and its UberBLACK drivers.
The suit Razak v. Uber Technologies, currently in the federal court in Pennsylvania's Eastern District, is centered on drivers' employment status while being “on-call” utilizing the phone’s mobile app.
The drivers claim they are working for Uber during this period because they are unable to turn down a fare if requested through the app. Therefore, they should be paid hourly wages as opposed to only the fees they collect from fares.
The motion asks specifically that the court recognize “that Online Time does not constitute compensable hours worked.”
Uber maintains that the drivers are still independent contractors because it's impossible to know whether drivers are actually working when they are in on-call status.
“Even if Plaintiffs could establish that they were employees rather than independent contractors, (which they cannot), their Online Time is not compensable, because they cannot prove that Uber controlled their online Time or that their Online Time was spent primarily for Uber’s benefit,” the memorandum says.
The case was initially filed in January 2016. Uber previously motioned for dismissal by citing arbitration clauses in the contract but had its motion denied by the court.
“When the dust settles, Plaintiffs have not only alleged, but also demonstrated, that they opted out of Uber’s Arbitration Agreement,” Judge Michael Baylson wrote.
The outcome of this case could carry with it broad ramifications for the ride-sharing industry, which is still highly unregulated. Additionally, the case could affect businesses that deal primarily with independent contractors.
“It is a big deal because many plaintiffs’ class action lawyers have been focused on the Uber cases,” Richard Reibstein, partner with Pepper Hamilton, told the Pennsylvania Record earlier this year. “We’re likely to see more of these call-and-pay cases because of the notability of this case.”