In short: Uber has won a significant victory in its ongoing battle with drivers in California over their classification as contractors rather than employees, among other disagreements, after successfully appealing earlier court rulings in the matter. According to court documents filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, previous cases should have been sent to arbitration rather than proceeding as class action suits. More directly, the panel of judges overseeing the case ruled that arbitration agreements signed by plaintiffs in those cases were enforceable, causing each of the rulings in those cases to be reversed.
Background: The cases in question cover at least three suits filed against Uber with California courts starting with a case way back in 2013 and stretch across nearly a dozen appeals which began in 2014. Uber's motions to move to arbitration and out of the courtroom were denied in each of those cases for a variety of reasons. Those ranged from incompatibilities between arbitration agreements and federal laws to at least one instance where a plaintiff summarily opted out of arbitration for the entire class. Despite those prior rulings, according to Judge Richard R. Clifton, there weren't really any grounds to deny the motions, to begin with. Instead, the judge notes that those should have been granted and has moved to reverse those rulings. More succinctly, the panel determined that at least one prior case shown two years ago to be incorrectly defined as a class action and other missteps by the court adversely affected following rulings which were based on those. As a result, the reversal will also overturn prior injunctions that were based on those decisions.
Impact: Moving forward, this is not at all likely to be the end of the current disputes. With previous decisions made by the court now rendered moot, Uber workers will need to approach their respective cases from a different angle. That could ultimately mean the drivers will need to enter into arbitration either individually or collectively, or that the drivers will need to retry their cases individually rather than as a class-action suit. Regardless, unless the drivers choose not to continue pursuing action against the company, the cases could feasibly carry on for years to come.