LOS ANGELES — A federal court has certified a class action suit filed by a group of drivers against Uber for wage violations under the California Labor Code, particularly the code’s expense reimbursement and converted tips provisions. The certified class consists of Uber drivers in California since August 16, 2009 and those who drove for the companies in their own names and were paid directly by Uber or a subsidiary. The court decided that the members of the certified class can pursue reimbursement from Uber of their vehicle-related phone expenses as well as their “converted tips.”
Independent Contractor Status
The Uber drivers in this case were deemed by the company to be exempt from coverage from these provisions of the California Labor Code because they were independent contractors, as opposed to employees. In California, workers are presumed to be employees unless an employer can show, based on a number of factors that the worker’s relationship with the employer is that of an employee. The most significant factor in this consideration is whether the person to whom service is rendered has control or the right to control the workers both as to the work done and the manner and means in which it is performed. Other factors include whether the worker is engaged in an occupation or business that is distinct from the employer, and whether the work being performed is a part of the regular business of the employer.
California state law provides that employers are required to reimburse employees for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by employees as a result of the performance of their duties or because they followed an employer’s directions. Employees are not allowed to waive the right to reimbursement, and employers have to reimburse if they have reason to know that the employee incurred such expenses, even if they do not request reimbursement. This may include the use of cellphones, if required by the employer. Specifically, if an employer requires employees to use cellphones in performing their duties, California requires the employer to pay some reasonable percentage of the employees’ cell phone bills.
The California Labor Code allows for involuntary tip pooling as long as that pool is not used to compensate the owners, managers, or supervisors of the business regardless of they provide direct table service to a patron or are in the chain of service to the patron. The requirement to share tips must be reasonable and the employees that share in the pool are employees to whom the tip was paid, given, or left for. These are employees that are in the chain of service who bear a relationship to the customer’s overall experience.
Being misclassified as an independent contractor can result in an employee being deprived of wage rights under both federal and state wage laws. You should call (855) 754-2795 or complete the Free Unpaid Overtime Case Review form on the top right of this page if you feel that you have been subject to misclassification. Our top-rated team of wage lawyers will evaluate your situation to determine your best course of action. We will also determine if it is in your best interest to file a lawsuit against your employer. There are strict time limitations for filing, so it is important that you call our experienced attorneys today.