Add California's Employment Development Department (EDD) to the list of groups that think Uber drivers are employees and not independent contractors, as the ride-sharer suggests.
The EDD has issued a ruling [PDF] that a former Uber driver met the criteria for an employee and was therefore able to collect unemployment benefits.
The case stemmed from a woman who drove for Uber part-time under the UberX service. When she was dismissed for failing to provide Uber with certain documents, she filed to collect unemployment citing Uber as her former employer. The dial-a-ride service objected, claiming the woman was an independent contractor and not an employee when she worked for Uber.
The EDD, which oversees unemployment insurance matters for the state, found that Uber required, among other things, the driver to display Uber's sign on her car, accept trip assignments handed out by Uber, and have ride fares processed and paid by Uber.
"The claimant did not have her own business license to provide services in public transportation and could not establish her own clientele," the EDD ruled.
"The services provided by the claimant were an integral part of the appellant's business. Without these drivers, in fact, the employer's business of public transportation services would not exist."
The ruling, issued in August, was spotted and posted online by one of the lawyers leading the class-action charge against Uber on behalf of 160,000 drivers in California who were said to have been illegally cheated out of tip payments by Uber. Earlier this month a California judge ruled the drivers are able to file their claim as a class action rather than individually, a ruling that supports the notion that Uber drivers are employees.
That case, like the EDD case, rested in part on the distinction of whether Uber drivers were employees of the company or were just independent contractors who worked with Uber. The ride-finding appmaker has long argued that the people who drive for its fleet are contracted workers who only use Uber to find fares.
While Uber does offer a fleet of cars in its Uber Black service, most drivers operate under the UberX brand and use their personal cars to ferry passengers. ®