One year after the United States District Judge in San Francisco approved the lawsuit Uber drivers filed against Uber as a class action, the ride-hailing multinational company achieved a significant legal victory after the federal appeals court concluded that drivers must settle their disputes with Uber on an individual basis. The ruling was made this Wednesday by the ninth US circuit court of appeals and applies to the aforementioned lawsuit which challenges Uber's background-checking practices.
Regardless of that, the reasoning behind this decision also significantly weakens another class-action suit Uber drivers filed over their classification. Namely, plaintiffs in the said case claimed that Uber was treating them in an exploitative manner by classifying them as contractors and not regular employees. That lawsuit was signed by close to 385,000 Uber drivers whose position just got significantly weaker after today's decision made by the appeals court. If forced to settle that claim individually, most Uber drivers will have significantly weaker cases, not to mention the fact that it isn't likely many of them have the resources to engage in a legal battle with such a large company on their own. Plaintiff's attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan was obviously dissatisfied with today's ruling describing it as "not good for the class". Regardless of that, she proclaimed that the dispute is far from over and that there are still alternative angles from which the plaintiffs can challenge Uber's controversial practices. However, Liss-Riordan refused to clarify on what that exactly means, implying we'll get more details on the case in the coming months. Experts believe Liss-Riordan's new strategy will probably be related to the fact that there are certain exceptions to the appeals court's ruling. More specifically, several thousand of Uber's drivers can still participate in the class-action lawsuit.
Besides having legal battles with its own drivers, Uber is also frequently getting involved in disputes with its own customers. Earlier this year, the company was forced to settle two class-action lawsuits in Northern California after former Uber passengers sued on the basis of untrue descriptions of the company's safety practices and related fees. That settlement alone cost the company a whopping $28.5 million and would have definitely ended differently if the plaintiffs were forced to resolve their claims with Uber individually, which is basically what happened with the aforementioned case yesterday.