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Uber Drivers: Employees Not Independent Contractors

In August, the California Employment Development Department (EDD) determined that Uber drivers are employees of the company. Uber has previously claimed their drivers are merely independent contractors, however, after the EDD found a former driver in Southern California was an employee, an administrative law judge and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board upheld the decision.

This is not the first time Uber drivers have been held to be employees. In May, a Florida regulator agency found them to be employees, as opposed to independent contractors. Additionally, the California Labor Commissioner issued a similar ruling in June. The decision in August is significant because it was the first of these cases to be appealed by Uber.

A list of factors is considered to determine if an individual is an employee or independent contractor. The administrative law judge found Uber has sole discretion over fares, prohibits drivers from picking up passengers who do not have the app (Uber application), can charge drivers who choose not to accept a rider, and can suspend or deactivate drivers’ accounts.

Previously, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Colorado, Illinois, New York, and California had made rulings that classified Uber drivers as independent contractors. These recent rulings which determined Uber drivers to be Uber employees may have a major impact on Uber’s future. It certainly will have an impact on Uber’s liability for its drivers. If its drivers are employees, Uber can be liable for its drivers’ negligence that occurs in the course and scope of their employment. This exposes Uber to liability for automobile accidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by its employee drivers. In other words, if someone is injured by an Uber driver while the Uber driver is working, the injured victim can also hold Uber responsible for its driver’s mistakes just like any other company that has employee drivers.

If you or someone you know was injured or killed in an accident involving an Uber driver, it is important to understand your right to recover. Contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884 for a confidential consultation.

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