O'Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
www.uberlitigation.com

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is this lawsuit about?

This lawsuit is about whether Uber has misclassified drivers as independent contractors, as opposed to its employees. If so, this lawsuit will determine whether part of the fare includes a tip that Uber allegedly failed to pass along to drivers and whether Uber must reimburse drivers for certain vehicle-related and phone expenses. This case is scheduled for a jury trial beginning on June 20, 2016. The jury trial is to decide whether the claims being made against Uber, on your behalf, are correct. Judge Edward M. Chen of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is overseeing this class action. The lawsuit is known as Douglas O’Connor et al v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Case No. 13-03826-EMC.

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2. What is a class action and who is involved?

In a class action lawsuit, one or more people called “Class Representatives” sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people together are a “Class” or “Class Members.” In this case, two of the individuals who initiated this lawsuit, Mr. Elie Gurfinkel and Mr. Matthew Manahan, are Class Representatives. Together, the Class Representatives and Class Members are called the Plaintiffs. The company that has been sued—in this case Uber–is called the Defendant. One court resolves the issues for everyone in the Class–except for those people who chose to exclude themselves from the class.

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3. Why is this lawsuit a class action?

The Court decided that the claims in this lawsuit can proceed as a class action because they meet the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23, which governs class actions in federal courts. Specifically, the Court found that:

  • The size of the Class is so large that it would be impractical to join each Class Member as a party to this lawsuit;
  • There are legal questions and facts that are common to each Class Member;
  • The Class Representatives’ claims are typical of the claims of the rest of the Class;
  • The Class Representatives and the lawyers representing the Class will fairly and adequately represent the Class’ interests;
  • The common legal questions and facts are more important than questions that affect only individuals; and
  • This class action will be more efficient than having many individual lawsuits.

More information on why the Court is allowing the lawsuit to be a class action is in the Court’s Order Certifying the Class, which can be viewed here.

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4. What does the lawsuit complain about?

In this lawsuit, Plaintiffs claim that Uber has misclassified drivers as independent contractors and that drivers should be classified as Uber’s employees.

Plaintiffs contend that drivers are employees under the California Labor Code. California Labor Law considers the following factors in determining whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor:

(a) the degree of control exercised by the putative employer, including particularly the employer’s right to terminate the worker at will; (b) whether the services performed by the worker is an integral part of the employer’s business; (c) whether the one performing services is engaged in a distinct occupation or business; (d) the kind of occupation, with reference to whether, in the locality, the work is usually done under the direction of the principal or by a specialist without supervision; (e) the skill required in the particular occupation; (f) whether the principal of the worker supplies the instrumentalities, tools, and the place of work for the person doing the work; (g) the length of time for which the services are to be performed; (h) the method of payment, whether by the time or by the job; (i) whether or not the work is a part of the regular business of the principal; and (j) whether or not the parties believe they are creating the relationship of employer-employee.

Under California Labor Law, a court or jury must consider the application of these factors.

Plaintiffs contend that it is not dispositive that a worker does not have a fixed schedule, does not have a minimum amount of time they have to work, does not have a geographic territory assigned to them, or is permitted to engage in another occupation or business, including working for a competitor. Plaintiffs further claim that because these drivers are employees, they are entitled to be reimbursed for certain expenses, and because Uber did not pass along to these drivers the part of the fare that they allege represents a tip, Uber violated the California Labor Code. You can read the Complaint Plaintiffs submitted here.

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5. What is Uber’s position?

Uber disputes Plaintiffs’ claims, and denies that it did anything wrong. With regard to the employment classification question, Uber’s position is that drivers who use the App are not Uber’s employees, and that Uber does not control them like an employer would. For example, Uber’s position is that it never sets drivers’ schedules, never requires them to log into the Uber App for any minimum amount of time, never requires them to accept any particular trip request received via the Uber App, never assigns them a geographic territory, never restricts them from engaging in another occupation or business, and never restricts them from simultaneous use of other apps like Lyft and Sidecar. With regard to the tips claim, Uber’s position is that the fare does not include a tip, and Uber has not withheld any tips from drivers. With regard to the expense reimbursement claim, Uber’s position is that drivers are not Uber’s employees, and are not entitled to expense reimbursement under the California Labor Code.

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6. Has the Court decided who is right?

The Court hasn’t decided which side is right. By establishing the Class and issuing this Notice, the Court is not suggesting that Plaintiffs will win or lose this case. Plaintiffs must prove their claims at a jury trial, which is scheduled to begin on June 20, 2016.

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7. What are Plaintiffs asking for?

Plaintiffs want Uber to classify drivers as Uber’s employees instead of independent contractors. Plaintiffs also want to recover the full amount of any tips that they allege are included as part of a fare for a ride generated by the Uber App, as well as reimbursement for certain vehicle-related and phone expenses they allege they have incurred in order to transport passengers. Plaintiffs will seek reimbursement of class members’ vehicle-related expenses based upon the IRS mileage reimbursement rate for all miles that Uber’s records show that class members have driven transporting Uber passengers. The IRS reimbursement rate (which is currently 57.5 cents per mile) covers the following expenses: (1) depreciation or lease payments on a vehicle; (2) maintenance & repairs; (3) tires; (4) gas; (5) oil; (6) insurance; and (7) license and registration fees. Plaintiffs will not seek reimbursement of any expenses other than the vehicle-related expenses based upon the IRS mileage reimbursement rate and phone expenses.

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8. Is there any money available now?

No money or benefits are available now because the Court has not yet decided whether Uber did anything wrong, and the two sides have not settled the case. There is no guarantee that money or benefits ever will be obtained. If they are, you will be notified about how to ask for a share.

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9. Which drivers are included?

Judge Chen determined that you are part of the Class if you meet the following criteria:

  • You used the App to provide transportation services requested through the UberBlack, UberX, or UberSUV platforms in the state of California at any time from August 16, 2009 up to and including December 9, 2015;
  • You signed up to use the App directly with Uber or an Uber subsidiary under your individual name (e.g., not a corporate or fictitious name); and
  • You received payments directly from Uber or an Uber subsidiary and under your individual name (e.g., not a corporate or fictitious name).

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10. Which drivers are not included in the Class?

The following groups of drivers are not included in the Class:

  • Drivers who signed up to use the App with Uber or an Uber subsidiary through a corporate or fictitious name.
  • Drivers who signed up to use the App to drive for the account of a third-party transportation company, such as a limousine company.
  • Drivers who did not use the App on or prior to December 9, 2015.

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11. I’m not sure if I am included.

If you are not sure whether you are included, you can get free help by calling the toll free number, 1-888-884-5976. You may also send questions to the Notice Administrator at info@uberlitigation.com or O'Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc., c/o GCG, P.O. Box 10268, Dublin, OH 43017-5768.

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12. What happens if I do nothing at all?

You don’t have to do anything now if you want to keep the possibility of being classified as Uber’s employee and getting money or benefits from this lawsuit. By doing nothing you are staying in the Class. If you stay in and Plaintiffs prove that you are Uber’s employee and obtain money or benefits, either as a result of the trial or a settlement, you will be notified about how to apply for a share (or how to ask to be excluded from any settlement). Keep in mind that if you do nothing now, regardless of whether Plaintiffs win or lose the trial, you will not be able to sue Uber–as part of any other lawsuit–about the same legal claims that are the subjects of this lawsuit. You will also be legally bound by all of the orders the Court issues and judgments the Court makes in this class action, including any orders or judgments regarding Plaintiffs’ claim that you are an employee of Uber.

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13. Why would I ask to be excluded?

If you exclude yourself from the Class–which also means to remove yourself from the Class–you won’t be bound by any determination that Class members are or are not Uber’s employees or get any money or benefits from this lawsuit even if Plaintiffs obtain them as a result of the trial or from any settlement (that may or may not be reached) between Uber and Plaintiffs. However, you may then be able to file your own suit against Uber for claims that are the same or similar to the claims being raised in this lawsuit. If you exclude yourself, you will not be legally bound by the Court’s judgments in this class action. If you start your own lawsuit against Uber after you exclude yourself, you’ll have to hire and pay your own lawyer for that lawsuit if you want to use a lawyer, and you’ll have to prove your claims. If you do exclude yourself so you can start your own lawsuit against Uber, you should talk to your own lawyer soon, because your claims may be subject to a statute of limitations.

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14. How do I ask the Court to exclude me from the Class?

To ask to be excluded, you must send a written request in the form of an email or a letter sent by mail, stating that you want to be excluded from O’Connor v. Uber. You must email your request to be excluded from the class by March 29, 2016. Alternatively, you may send a letter by mail containing the same information to the address set forth below. The letter must be postmarked by March 29, 2016.

O'Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc.
c/o GCG
P.O. Box 10268
Dublin, OH 43017-5768
exclude@uberlitigation.com

Please note that excluding yourself from the Class is different from “opting-out” of the arbitration clause, which you may have previously heard about. If you exclude yourself from the class, you will not be eligible for any recovery that may be obtained in this lawsuit.

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15. Can Uber retaliate against me for participating in this case?

No, it is against the law for Uber to retaliate against you for participating in this lawsuit.

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16. Do I have a lawyer in this case?

The Court decided that Ms. Shannon Liss-Riordan, Esq. and Ms. Adelaide Pagano, Esq. of the law firm Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C. are qualified to represent you and all Class Members. These lawyers are called “Class Counsel.” They are experienced in handling similar cases against other defendants. If you have questions about the lawsuit or your rights in this case, you can contact them at the address below:

Plaintiffs’ Counsel
Shannon Liss-Riordan, Esq.
Adelaide Pagano, Esq.
Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C.
729 Boylston Street, Suite 2000
Boston, MA 02116
(855) 590-2600
uberlawsuit@llrlaw.com

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17. Should I get my own lawyer?

You do not need to hire your own lawyer because Class Counsel is working on your behalf. But, if you want your own lawyer, you will have to pay that lawyer. For example, you can ask him or her to appear in Court for you if you want someone other than Class Counsel to speak for you.

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18. How will the lawyers be paid?

If Class Counsel get money or benefits for the Class, they may ask the Court for fees and expenses. You won’t have to pay these fees and expenses. If the Court grants Class Counsel’s request, the fees and expenses would be either deducted from any money obtained for the Class or paid separately by Uber.

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19. How and when will the Court decide who is right?

As long as the case isn’t resolved by a settlement or otherwise, Class Counsel will have to prove Plaintiffs’ claims at a jury trial. The jury trial is scheduled to begin on June 20, 2016. During the trial, a jury will hear all of the evidence to help them reach a decision about whether Plaintiffs or Uber are right about the claims in the lawsuit. There is no guarantee that Plaintiffs will win, or that they will get any money for the Class.

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20. Do I have to come to the trial?

You do not need to attend the trial. Class Counsel will present the case for Plaintiffs, and Uber will present the defenses. You or your own lawyer are welcome to come at your own expense.

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21. Will I get money after the trial?

If Plaintiffs obtain a judgment that drivers are Uber’s employees and money or benefits as a result of the trial or settlement, you will be notified about how to participate. We do not know how long this will take.

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22. Are more details available?

The Court’s Orders Certifying the Class, the Complaint that Plaintiffs submitted, and Uber’s Answer to Plaintiffs’ Complaint can be reviewed here. You may also speak to one of the Plaintiffs’ lawyers by calling (855) 590-2600 or writing to uberlawsuit@llrlaw.com.

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