A federal judge has ruled that a group of Uber drivers in California can proceed with their class-action lawsuit against the ride-hailing service. The Sept. 1 decision to certify Uber drivers as a class clears the way for a massive lawsuit that could encompass as many as 160,000 plaintiffs.
They are suing Uber for misclassifying them as independent contractors instead of employees. The plaintiffs argue that Uber should have covered vehicle-related expenses such as maintenance, mileage and insurance.
But the stakes could grow much higher. Uber could be liable for Social Security taxes, back pay and other benefits the drivers would have received had they been classified as employees.
The class represents as all current and former Uber drivers in California dating back to 2009. A jury trial will probably happen in 2016.
Uber tried to argue that its drivers do not have enough in common to file a class action, saying there was no such thing as a “typical” Uber driver.
Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court for Northern California didn’t buy it, noting that “plaintiffs may all be left-handed and drive Hondas, while numerous class members are right-handed and drive Toyotas. But these differences do not demonstrate that the named Plaintiffs are not typical class representatives.”