As of Thursday, April 21, Uber has closed two long-running class action lawsuits and is set to pay out $100 million in settlements. The legal battles in California and Massachusetts centered on whether drivers working within the popular rideshare network were classified as employees or independent contractors.
The pair of lawsuits was originally filed in 2013. Labor advocates and attorneys had argued drivers should be allowed the worker protections found under the employee classification. The rideshare facilitator disagreed, saying drivers wanted to avoid the rigid nature of on-the-clock employment.
Under the terms of the settlement, drivers will carry on as non-employees of the $62 billion technology company, but The New York Times reports that Uber will also be responsible for assisting with the creation of driver associations and providing more information on why certain drivers are barred from using the Uber app.
In a statement posted on its website, Uber admitted it had not always worked well with its drivers, but said efforts would be made moving forward.
“Drivers value their independence — the freedom to push a button rather than punch a clock, to use Uber and Lyft simultaneously, to drive most of the week or for just a few hours. That’s why we are so pleased that this settlement recognizes that drivers should remain as independent contractors, not employees,” the statement reads.
“That said, as Uber has grown — over 450,000 drivers use the app each month here in the U.S. — we haven’t always done a good job working with drivers. For example, we don’t have a policy explaining when and how we bar drivers from using the app, or a process to appeal these decisions. At our size, that’s not good enough. It’s time to change.”
Despite the settlement of these two class actions, the company still faces similar legal obstacles in Arizona, Florida and Pennsylvania.