Uber has been hit with a class-action lawsuit alleging the dial-a-ride app maker deliberately cuts driver payouts while at the same time overcharging riders.
The complaint [PDF], filed this week in the California Central District US Court, claims the Uber phone app deliberately chooses longer routes to calculate fares, then presents the driver with a shorter route for calculating their payment.
As a result, the suit argues, Uber maximizes its own payout by both overcharging the passenger and then underpaying the driver for each trip.
"When a driver accepts a User's request for transportation, the User's final destination is populated into the driver's application and the driver is provided with navigation instructions directing him or her to the best route to the User's destination. However, the software that calculates the upfront price that is displayed and charged to the Users calculates the expected distance and time utilizing a route that is often longer in both distance and time to the one displayed in the driver's application," the complaint reads.
"Based on information and belief, the Uber Defendants have intentionally designed the Uber Software, particularly the software that calculates the upfront price, to utilize a longer route than the one provided in the driver's application, for the purposes of creating the aforementioned discrepancy."
The class-action complaint is being headed up by driver Sophano Van of Los Angeles, who is suing on behalf of himself and other drivers who operate uberX, UberSUV, uberPOOL and UberBLACK trips in California.
"It is beyond dispute that the Uber Defendants knew its software would result in a disparity between the fares charged to Users and the amounts reported and paid to drivers," the plaintiffs argue.
The suit accuses Uber of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud by concealment, independent contractor misclassification, violation of the Lanham Act (truth in advertising), and violation of California labor law. The class is seeking a jury trial to determine damages.
Uber declined to comment on pending litigation.
The suit is the latest in a mounting pile of legal headaches facing Uber. Most notably, the dial-a-ride giant has been hit with claims it stole the basis for its self-driving car technology from Google's Waymo.