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Uber to drivers: You make a ton of dosh for us – but that doesn't make you employees
Super Cali court suspicious of Uber's hocus-pocus
Uber is arguing in court that 160,000 drivers who offer people rides for money via the upstart's app are not actually its employees.
The taxi-booking software startup told the California Northern District Court that its smartphone app was only a "lead generation" tool, and that drivers who operate on Uber are more akin to independent contractors than hired employees.
Uber argues that drivers who offer rides on the service are a "diverse group" who use Uber's service in different ways.
"Drivers also vary widely regarding whether they work for a transportation company; operate their own transportation companies; hire subcontractors; use competitors’ apps; use the Uber App consistently or sporadically; and use entrepreneurial profit maximization techniques, such as targeting busy areas of town or driving during periods of surge pricing," Uber told the court.
The claim is part of an effort by Uber to fend off a would-be class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of drivers who have argued that Uber does not give them a larger cut of ride fees or encourage passengers to tip.
Uber, in its argument, claims that because its drivers are "unique" in how they use the service, the class-action plaintiffs can't accurately represent all Uber drivers.
"Relying on outdated law and scant evidence, plaintiffs seek to certify a statewide class of over 160,000 individuals with widely varying personal interests and circumstances who have used the Uber lead generation application to connect with millions of passengers over the past six years," Uber wrote.
"They base their motion on a facially implausible theory that each and every one of these individuals had an identical relationship with Uber and has been misclassified as an independent contractor."
The case is one of many Uber continues to face over the legality of its service. Uber operates both its own fleet of private cars and the controversial ride-sharing services where drivers use their own cars to ferry passengers.
Governments in cities around the world (notably Paris and Sydney), have moved to ban the ride-sharing service, known as "UberX" or "UberPop" depending on region, on the grounds that the service operates as an unlicensed taxi provider. ®