Florida Action Latest to Claim That Uber Impermissibly Treats Drivers as Independent Contractors

Plaintiff Kathleen Short has filed a putative class action on behalf of herself and other Uber Technologies, Inc. (Uber) drivers alleging that the on-demand taxi service willfully misclassifies its drivers as independent contractors when they are in fact employees. Wednesday’s filing contends that Uber violated both the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Florida Minimum Wage Act (FMWA) by failing to pay its drivers minimum wage for hours they work.

According to the complaint, one of several filed by both private and public litigants against Uber its competitor, Lyft, Inc., and other companies that employ drivers, Uber’s independent contractor classification is “an effort to avoid providing its drivers with the minimum benefits and protections…”. The complaint specifies more than a dozen reasons why Uber drivers should be considered employees under the FLSA and Florida law including that drivers do not engage in business distinct from that of Uber and that the employer subtracts a 20% “administration fee” from gratuities left for drivers by customers.

Instead of paying drivers minimum wage, the complaint argues, Uber pays its drivers using a formula “based on and related in some way to the amount Uber receives from its customers.” The result, the filing claims is that drivers are neither paid for all hours worked nor are they paid the state’s minimum wage.

The plaintiff seeks to certify a class of drivers who, at any time during the period from June 18, 2012, to the filing of the complaint have worked, or currently work, as a driver for Uber. The plaintiff and putative class request unpaid back wages and other relief.

Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. represents the plaintiff.