Former Uber Driver In California Granted Unemployment Payments

While a decision by the California Employment Development Department only affects one employee and their claim for unemployment benefits, it’s yet another official declaration from a government agency that the people who drive for Uber have an employer-employee relationship with the company, which in theory should entitle them to benefits that employees receive: reimbursement of vehicle costs, having the employer’s portion of their income taxes paid, and receiving unemployment benefits when their employment with the company ends involuntarily, if appropriate.

This case didn’t become public until the attorneys organizing a class action suit in California posted the paperwork. That’s the same class action suit that was just certified as a class action covering all current and former Uber drivers in California.

In the EDD case, a former driver filed for unemployment benefits last year. The EDD found that the ex-driver was entitled to receive benefits, and Uber appealed that decision on the grounds that their drivers are independent contractors, not employees. An administrative law judge found that Uber does act as an employer, regulating who they can and can’t pick up while logged in to the app, setting fares, and deactivating drivers who break the rules or receive too many bad reviews.

An Uber spokesperson told Reuters that this decision only affects one ex-driver’s case, and “does not have any wider impact or set any formal or binding precedent.” It may not, but the decision does reflect an impartial observer’s opinion that Uber’s relationship with its drivers is that of an employer.

Former Uber driver was an employee, rules California department [Reuters]

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