The debate regarding whether Uber driver partners are employees or not continues, this time in a Philadelphia courtroom.

A case brought forward by UberBLACK drivers representing all driver in the state alleged Uber failed to pay them minimum wage, pay them overtime and violated the US Fair Labour Standards Act which applies to employees.

The Uber drivers involved in the suit also alleged that the firm violated its fiduciary duty to drivers by launching the cheaper UberX service.

This week Judge Michael Baylson ruled that much like freelancers, Uber driver partners are independent contractors and therefore are not Uber employees according to US Federal laws.

While Uber did try to quash the lawsuit Baylson said that he might have had the drivers not opted out of Uber’s Arbitration Agreement at the outset of the suit in 2016. The agreement states that driver issues must be settled through arbitration with Uber and not a court of law.

In a report by Reuters the judge said that Uber drivers are free to work when they want and even then are able to run personal errands, or smoke cigarettes between rides.

So then it appears as if Uber drivers are freelancers, at least in the state of Pennsylvania.

The important thing to note is that this ruling creates a precedent which could influence other disputes where drivers believe that Uber should be treating them like employees.

[Source – Razak v. Uber Technologies Inc, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, No. 2:16-cv-00573] [Image – CC BY SA 2.0 Elliott Brown]


Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.