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Uber Pushes Back on Petition to Compel Payment of $10M in Arbitration Fees in Discriminatory Pricing Dispute

Uber's logo on the exterior of a building.

August 21, 2019 San Francisco / CA / USA - UBER headquarters in SOMA district; Uber Technologies, Inc. is an American multinational transportation network company (TNC)

In a filing submitted on Sunday, Uber Technologies Inc. and Uber USA LLC  argue that the petitioners have no grounds to ask for the requested relief because contrary to their assertions, Uber is not resisting arbitration. 

Uber’s motion to dismiss is the latest filing in a multi-case saga that started with lawsuits filed by Uber Eats customers over an allegedly racially discriminatory pricing policy charging customers who ordered from Black-owned businesses less than those who ordered from non Black-owned businesses. Per the food delivery service’s arbitration agreement barring both court and collective actions, more than 20,000 customers filed arbitration demands beginning in October 2020 over Uber’s conduct that they claimed amounted to federal and state law civil rights violations.

According to a motion filed by some of the arbitration petitioners in federal court in San Francisco in December, Uber refused to pay the American Arbitration Association (AAA) filing fees it was obligated to under its own arbitration agreement. They argued that Uber was unfairly stalling the arbitration by both its refusal to pay and its filing of a suit with a New York state court over failed negotiations with the AAA over the disputed fees.

The petitioners requested the San Francisco court to order Uber to pay the remaining balance of arbitration fees, withdraw the pending action in New York state court, and end any other efforts to escape arbitration.

In last weekend’s filing, Uber refuted those arguments, instead contending that it “fully intends to arbitrate every single one of Petitioners’ claims.” As such, the plaintiffs purportedly cannot prove Uber’s “failure, neglect, or refusal” to arbitrate their claims.

In addition, Uber argues that the court cannot order the end of its New York state court litigation, a matter which it says the petitioners have no interest in. “Basic principles of federalism require this Court to allow the New York court to complete its work rather than overriding a pending case between Uber and a third party,” the filing says.

Addressing the substance of the petitioners’ claims, Uber argues that the court should not hold it accountable for the $10 million AAA fees because it does not owe the AAA all of this money, as it is currently arguing before the New York court. 

The motion hearing is currently scheduled for March 10 before Judge Richard Seeborg. The petitioners are represented by Consovoy McCarthy PLLC and Benbrook Law Group PC. Uber is represented by Jenner and Block LLP.

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