U.S. Third Circuit - The FindLaw 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

UberBlack Limo Drivers Not Employees Under FLSA

According to a judge out of Pennsylvania's federal Eastern District Court, UberBlack drivers are not employees under the FLSA, nor under Pennsylvania's state laws.

The ruling granting Uber's motion for summary judgment is the first of its kind in holding that under federal law, Uber drivers are independent contractors and not employees. Although the court acknowledged other holdings contrary to their own, it found that Uber's model did not fit the employer/employee mold as we know it today. The court explained:

Uber and Lyft "present a novel form of business that did not exist at all ten years ago, available through the use of "apps" installed on smart phones. With time, these businesses may give rise to new conceptions of employment status."

Details of the Case

The case, Razak v. Uber, was filed by a group of limousine drivers and companies alleging that their work for Uber should not have been classified as independent contractor work.

Unfortunately for the group, the court ruled that the extent of control the drivers had in controlling how, when, and where, they work weighed heavily in Uber's favor, given the current dichotomy of choice. The fact that drivers were free to do other work, run errands, and even smoke cigarettes, between Uber rides, were all specifically cited to support the denial of the drivers' claims.

A New Employment Classification

As the judge suggested, it may be time for the legislature to think up some solution to the rise in gig-economy workers. Perhaps a "Dependent" Contractor designation that provides some, but not all, of the protections and benefits that employees receive.

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