Labor Lawyer Files Lawsuit Against Uber for Unfair Practices

As the company fights to defend their operations in Cambridge, more problems have been presented.

Image via Uber on Facebook

Image via Uber on Facebook

A labor lawyer from Boston filed a class-action lawsuit in Suffolk County Superior Court this week, claiming the on-demand car service Uber treats its workers unfairly and doesn’t properly pay them the money they earn during shifts.

Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan said Uber has “misclassified” its Black Car, UberX, and SUV drivers as independent contractors, rather than employees, putting certain expenses on the backs of the workers that should be covered by the tech company. “I intend to prove that the drivers have been misclassified, and they shouldn’t have to pay expenses for employment—those are costs that should be [paid for] by Uber such as the cost of the car, or gas, and insurance,” said Liss-Riordan.

The lawsuit further claims that drivers aren’t getting the full amount of tips that they deserve, as advertised by the on-demand car service, and passengers have been discouraged by Uber to give additional tips to drivers when being picked up and dropped off.

“Uber has advertised to its customers that gratuity is included in the cost of its car service. However, Uber drivers do not receive the total proceeds of any such gratuity,” the complaint states. “Uber also prohibited its drivers from taking tips. Thus, drivers do not receive the tips that are customary in the car service industry, and that they would otherwise receive were it not for Uber’s communication to customers that they do not need to tip.”

The complaint said drivers have been “deprived” of payments customers would expect them to receive, since Uber is taking a portion of the fare. Liss-Riordan said this violates the state’s Tips Laws. The suit was filed on behalf of Hakan Yucesory, of Brookline, who worked as an Uber Black and UberX driver in 2013 and 2014.

Representatives from Uber told Boston that they couldn’t discuss the lawsuit, or the claims outlined by Liss-Riordan in this particular case, but that they would challenge the issue. “While we can’t comment on active litigation, I can tell you that Uber will vigorously defend the rights of riders to enjoy competition and choice, and for drivers to build their own small business,” a company representative said in a statement.

Liss-Riordan said in order for Uber drivers to participate in the class action suit with Yucesory, they will have to first “opt out” of Uber’s arbitration clause within 30 days, an opportunity that was granted by a federal judge presiding over a similar case in California in May which was also brought on by Liss-Riordan.

Uber Complaint – 6-26-14