The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that Uber [corporate site] drivers may not join in a class action suit to pursue employment claims against the transportation company but must resolve their disputes individually. The claims included a host of employment contract issues as well as allegations that the company responsible for conducting background investigations of prospective drivers did so without proper authorization and consent. At issue is whether the thousands of California drivers are bound to the arbitration clause in their employment contract. The court ruled that the arbitration agreement was authorized in this case as the plaintiffs not only had notice of the arbitration agreement but also an ability to opt out of the arbitration by sending an e-mail. Furthermore, the court disagreed with the analysis that arbitration would limit the amount the plaintiffs could recover or complaints they could raise as the arbitration encompasses all relevant issues and Uber has agreed to cover all of the cost of arbitration.
The Ninth Circuit agreed [JURIST report] in April to hear Uber’s appeal of a federal district court order that certified a class of nearly 160,000 drivers in California who were challenging their status as independent contractors. Later that month Uber reached [JURIST report] a settlement with 385,000 of its drivers in Massachusetts and California in a case surrounding the drivers’ status as independent contractors. The California Labor Commission ruled [JURIST report] in June of last year that drivers for the personal transportation service Uber are considered employees, not contractors.