Napoli Shkolnik Wins Big Legal Battle in NC Uber Case

As The New York Times recently reported, Uber drivers have won a tentative victory in their on-going legal battle to be classified as employees as opposed to independent contractors.

Due to a North Carolina federal court granting conditional certification to a class-action lawsuit that was filed on behalf of several Uber drivers under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the plaintiffs can now reach out to the 18,000+ drivers who have opted out of the arbitration clause of their contact with the company. These drivers are eligible to join the case. Uber’s contract gave drivers 30 days to opt out of arbitration.

Few companies provide an opportunity to opt out of arbitration clauses as that process usually results in a favorable conclusion for the employer. Such clauses have stopped class-action cases from gaining any traction.

“The ruling today is going to allow drivers across the country to band together to challenge Uber’s misclassification of them,” said a lawyer for the plaintiffs and a partner with Napoli Shkolnik PLLC. “They are employees and should be getting minimum wage and overtime as required by federal law.”

Uber is a popular alternative to traditional taxis for riders. It has more than 600,000 drivers in the United States but many of those drivers have felt that the company’s rules and demands are too restrictive. Therefore the drivers feel that they should be provided the benefits of traditional employees, something that Uber challenges.

It is still an uphill battle for drivers in North Carolina. The Federal District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina noted that the requirements for conditional certification for class-action status were “modest.” The plaintiffs need only to show a reasonable basis for their claim that there were other employees similar to themselves.

“The bar is not super-duper-high,” The Attorney said. But he noted that the court could have been more restrictive by, for instance, allowing only Uber drivers in the state, rather than the entire country, to join the class. The Court will decide whether or not the plaintiffs can proceed in a true class-action case after the discovery phase of the litigation.

Naturally Uber is disappointed by this recent setback, vowing it will work to de-certify the class.

If you or someone you know is an Uber driver and has opted out of the arbitration clause, we strongly urge you to contact our experienced class-action attorneys for a free consultation today.