A U.S. judge in Philadelphia has ruled that limousine drivers for Uber should be considered independent contractors and not company employees under federal law.
According to news from Reuters, the case, Razak v. Uber Technologies, was filed in February 2016. The plaintiffs, representing all drivers in Philadelphia for limo service UberBLACK, claimed the company should have paid them minimum wage and overtime due to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which only applies to employees.
But the federal ruling, which is the first of its kind on this ridesharing issue, states that Uber does not have enough control over its limo drivers to consider them employees.
In addition, U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson noted that drivers make their own schedules and can even nap, run personal errands or smoke cigarettes in between rides.
Uber has faced dozens of these types of lawsuits in recent years, with drivers wanting to be considered employees entitled to minimum wage, overtime and other legal protections. Last year, a state appeals court in Florida said Uber drivers were not employees under its state’s law, but California and New York have ruled drivers are employees are under those states’ laws.
And while many of these cases have been sent to arbitration, the plaintiffs in the Philadelphia case chose not to sign arbitration agreements with Uber.
Baylson noted that he was the first judge to rule on the issue under federal law. The ruling comes after a federal judge in San Francisco said that food delivery workers for Grubhub were not the company’s employees.
An Uber spokesperson said the company is pleased with the decision, but Jeremy Abay, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he would appeal the ruling to the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which would be the first time a federal appeals court will consider whether Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors.