Uber Stupid? The California Uber Ruling

california uber rulling uber legal issues nationwide
Written by Ted Rall

Writing for aNewDomain’s new Skewed, Ted Rall analyzes the California Uber ruling that could influence the rest of the nation.

aNewDomain’s Skewed Newsted-rall-on-the-california-uber-ruling — The nation’s biggest state has confirmed that Uber employees are employees and not some other bullshit designation constructed by scumbag corporate lawyers so multi-billion corporation can avoid paying them full benefits. California is not so uber stupid after all, it seems.

According to the California Labor Commission ruling:

Defendants [Uber] hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation,” said the California labor commission ruling, referring to the controversial company’s self-description as a “logistics company” as opposed to a taxi service, and its drivers as “entrepreneurs” as opposed to taxi drivers. “The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.”

So Uber lends its drivers a special phone. If you’re an Uber driver who goes inactive and remains inactive for 180 days or more, Uber deactivates your app membership. Of course, you probably wouldn’t go inactive at all if you bought your car using Uber’s subprime uber protest portland california uber rulingautomobile financing, which Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has bragged keeps drivers under the company’s thumb. You have to work like crazy to make payments. Just like the old store model.

The ruling from California, becuase of the state’s huge influence and huge market share nationally, could mark a precedent in other states — not just for Uber but also for any similar sharing economy company, like Airbnb for instance.

American corporations have been twisting language for years, avoiding paying full benefits to full-time workers who, under federal law, are clearly full-time employees. But now courts and regulators are starting to push back.

In August 2014 a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that 2,300 FedEx Ground drivers had been illegally misclassified as “independent contractors” rather than employees. Reported Forbes: “FedEx avoided health care, workers compensation, paid sick leave and vacation, retirement and more. FedEx made drivers pay for their uniquely FedEx branded trucks, FedEx branded uniforms, and FedEx scanners. Plus, fuel, insurance, tires, oil changes, maintenance, even workers compensation coverage.

Add in missed meal and rest period pay, overtime compensation, and penalties. Some “independent contractors” even had to pay wages of employees FedEx Ground required them to hire to cover for them if they were sick or needed a vacation, to help out during the Christmas rush!”

Other worker-abusing companies that have been slammed by independent contractor misclassification lawsuits include Macy’s, the NFL, Sleepy’s, Penthouse, Lowe’s, Jani-King, DirecTV, BMW and SuperShuttle.

By the way, FedEx posted a profit of $606 million for that quarter alone. CEO Fred Smith “earns” $14 million a year.


For aNewDomain and the new SkewedNews, I am Ted Rall.

Ed: A version of this story ran earlier today at aNewDomain’s new SkewedNews. 

Cover image: by taxi-deutschland.net [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Image inside: Uber Protest Portland (16087787188)” by Aaron PareckiP1020427.JPG. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

1 Comment

  • If its from CA & sucks & IS stupid! The Uber model is fine for folks who dont want to be “employees” because as “employees” you also LOSE certain rights. Who cares if they may have some “scummy” practices – its one personal decision to work for them or not. This simply allows CA to get their paw into the works which will ruin a good thing!