Uber, Lyft strike out in ruling on drivers' worker status

Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing services like them depend on the drivers that make their services what they are, and those drivers aren't terribly happy. They get paid as independent contractors, which means they do not enjoy employment benefits and must pay self-employment taxes, as well as vehicular maintenance, something that cuts heavily into their pay. Many drivers say that they should be classified as employees and have sought legal help in the matter, and the companies have, of course, pushed back against this, seeking a ruling that the workers are, indeed, contractors. The latest ruling in the matter is yet again not in the companies' favor.

The aforementioned ridesharing companies have been seeking to have their respective drivers ruled as independent contractors rather than the employees they want to be designated as. Such a ruling wouldn't only affect these companies, but many others outside of the transportation industry that depends on workers being contractors.

The judges didn't rule the way the companies wanted, however, instead saying that juries will have to make the determination. This will require two rulings, as there are two different lawsuits, both with class-action status taking place in San Francisco. If the drivers are designated as employees, both Uber and Lyft will be faced with paying for things like vehicular maintenance, workers' comp, and a host of other things that will increase their expenses.

If such a ruling is made, this would set a precedent for those working in other "sharing economy" positions in other companies, which span everything from delivery to home-cleaning services. In pointing out the difficulty of determining how the drivers should be classified, one judge said, "The jury in this case will be handed a square peg and asked to choose between two round holes."

SOURCE: Reuters