More and more employers are using workers’ contracts to quietly strip workers from bringing lawsuits against them. In one of the most recent, and highest profile examples, Uber drivers have effectively signed away rights to sue the transportation-technology giant. Uber’s workers’ agreements have included an arbitration clause since at least 2013, which says that drivers must resolve legal disputes through arbitration rather than bring a lawsuit against the company. However, the impact of this clause hasn’t been particularly evident until recently, when a federal appeals court ruling put a potential $100 million class action settlement at risk.
In 2014, two California-based Uber drivers alleged that the company violated federal credit reporting laws. Both drivers filed lawsuits. In 2015, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Uber could not force the plaintiffs into arbitration, calling it “procedurally and substantively unconscionable, and therefore unenforceable as a matter of California law.” Of course Uber appealed this decision, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel overturned the ruling. As a result, the plaintiffs in the cases above will be forced into arbitration, removing their option for a class action lawsuit. This decision also impacts multiple pending lawsuits, and inevitable future lawsuits, against Uber. If you’re concerned about a workers’ contract you have signed, or are considering signing, contact a skilled MA lawyer today.
Hundreds of Thousands of Uber Drivers May be Affected
Last year, Uber agreed to pay a $100 million settlement, which would have been spread out to about 400,000 drivers in Massachusetts and California. But the settlement was rejected for being too small; the drivers could have won more than $850 million at trial. If Uber files a motion to apply the Ninth Circuit ruling to the pending case above – which it likely will – its success will mean that only drivers who opted out of the arbitration will be eligible for a payout. This would effectively exclude all but a few thousand of the 385,000 drivers included in the class action.
Compulsory arbitration is typically bad for the little guy and good for the company – in this case, Uber. In fact, arbitrators have a hidden motivation to be gentle with the big fish because large businesses are often involved in disputes and will continue to have a need for arbitrators. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that big companies can benefit from hiring arbitrators who typically decide in their favor.
The arbitration clause in Uber’s workers’ contract is intended to protect the company from being sued by its drivers for injuries and property damage. For example, if a driver hits a pedestrian because she was looking at the Uber app to determine her next ride’s location, she can’t sue Uber for damages. If you’ve been injured in any type of accident, work-related or not, contact a Boston injury lawyer today.
Altman & Altman, LLP – Personal Injury Lawyers Serving All of Massachusetts
If you have been injured in any type of accident, the legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. If you are concerned that obtaining compensation for work-related injuries or property damage will be negatively impacted by an arbitration clause, it is in your best interest to hire skilled legal counsel immediately. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we can review your workers’ contract to determine the best legal strategy for moving forward. It is our goal to get you the compensation you deserve so that you can move on with your life. We will make sure you understand your rights and options before taking the next step. Don’t go through this alone. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.