A class of aggrieved UberEats customers allege that the company has balked at paying arbitration fees for nearly 7,000 individual arbitration cases and now seek an order requiring Uber to pay the fees and cease all efforts to delay or avoid those proceedings.
The cases concern a differential pricing policy Uber adopted in the latter half of 2020, whereby customers who ordered from Black-owned businesses were not charged a delivery fee, while customers who ordered from non-Black-owned businesses were charged, allegedly in violation of California and federal civil rights laws.
More than 20,000 individual consumers filed arbitration demands beginning in October 2020, per the food delivery service’s arbitration agreement barring both court and collective actions. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) determined that all claimants satisfied their initial filing obligations and assessed Uber for fees owed under the agreement, at the AAA’s allegedly long-standing rate of $1,400 per case.
The AAA split the claimants up into three groups, 477 in the first and about 7,270 in the second and third. Uber allegedly paid the first batch’s bill for approximately $668,000, but dug its feet with the second that would cost more than $10 million.
Uber then sought relief from the fees with a New York state court. Eventually, it was required to pay $700,000 to facilitate 500 more cases, pending a final decision by a state appellate tribunal. In last week’s petition, the claimants contend that the bill for the remainder of the 7,271 second batch cases remains outstanding.
The motion argues that Uber is resistant to swallow its own medicine. “Due to Uber’s ongoing and concerted efforts to avoid payment of the very fees that it incorporated into its adhesive arbitration agreement, thousands of Claimants are being deprived of their right to arbitration,” the filing says.
Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) the court can and should compel Uber to adhere to the terms of the agreement it wrote, the claimants assert. As such, the petition asks that the court order Uber to pay the remaining balance and to require Uber to withdraw the pending action in New York state court and cease any other efforts to escape arbitration.