Earlier this month, Uber suffered a major legal setback when a San Francisco judge ruled that the jobs of Uber drivers in California are similar enough that workers can sue the company as a class instead of as individuals.
On Tuesday, Uber filed to appeal the class-action status of its lawsuit, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The company argues that the class-action ruling was “manifestly erroneous.”
The class-action status would mean that many of California’s 160,000 current and former Uber drivers could be reclassified as employees of the company, rather than independent contractors, if the lawsuit prevails.
Judge Edward Chen’s class-action ruling would mean that the lawsuit would apply to all California Uber drivers, except those who waived their right to class-action aribtration.
However, many of these same drivers waived their right to arbitration last year, when Uber updated its driver contract, so the suit applies to just 160,000 current and former Uber drivers.
These drivers could be reclassified as employees of the company, rather than independent contractors, if the lawsuit prevails. Should Uber lose the case, it has the potential to upend the business model that has turned Uber into one of the world’s most valuable private tech companies, with a $US51 billion valuation.
A wholesale change from contractors to employees could cost Uber tens of millions of dollars — or more, according to some estimates.
The drivers’ attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan, told The Wall Street Journal that she “would be very surprised for it to be reversed. There is nothing novel about certifying these claims; independent contractor misclassification cases are typically addressed on a classwide basis.”
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