Uber is calling on a judge in California to uphold a ruling from an arbitrator that denied a driver’s attempt to be treated as an employee of Uber.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Uber wants the court to approve the decision and dismiss the driver’s claim that the driver is an employee instead of a contractor based on the law on the books in California. The report noted it could be one or many rulings the court is asked to make after a federal appeals court ruled most Uber drivers have to use arbitration to resolve disputes with Uber.
While Uber doesn’t need the confirmation of the arbitration award by a judge in the state, it could be doing that as strategic maneuvering to impact other cases and deter against more litigation, Candace Bertoldi, a labor and employment lawyer with Seyfarth Shaw LLP in Los Angeles, said in the Bloomberg report. “It’s an important step that Uber is taking this public,” she said.
The arbitration awards aren’t legally binding, but they are viewed with heavy weight given the care taken by the arbitrator, which, in this case, was retired judge Michael Marcus. “We are very pleased by Judge Marcus’ decision, which was a well-reasoned decision based on an extensive review of facts of the case and analysis of the relevant case law,” San Francisco-based Uber said in a statement covered by Bloomberg. “It’s clear he understands the Uber model, and we have long argued that drivers using the Uber app are correctly classified as independent contractors.”
In a court of appeals ruling last year, a San Francisco court ruled Uber could make most of its drivers hash out disputes in arbitration instead of going to court. That gave Uber the edge in a lawsuit lodged on behalf of 385,000 current and former drivers in California and Massachusetts that want the same rights as employees.