US Federal Judge: UberBlack Drivers Are Not Employees

Photo by Mark Warner from Flickr

Uber has been battling the perception that the drivers of the company should be considered as employees for quite some time. Both the United Kingdom and the state of California in the United States have concluded that its drivers should be considered as employees and be entitled to things such as holiday pay, minimum wage, and some other benefits. However, a judge in Philadelphia, USA, has ruled that the drivers of UberBlack are not, in fact, considered to be employees under federal law.

The ruling only applies to the limousine-like service of Uber. However, it could set precedence for the entire industry of ride-sharing and the associated gig economy. Reuters reported that the judge stated that Uber does not exert enough control over the drivers of UberBlack to be considered as their employer under the Fair Labor Standards Act of the United States. Michael Baylson, the U.S. District Judge, stated that the drivers are free to nap, can work when they want to, run personal errands, and even smoke cigarettes between their rides.

Understandably, according to Reuters, Uber is happy with the said decision. However, a lawyer for the plaintiffs said that he would appeal the said ruling to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States which is also in Philadelphia. That would make it the first federal appeals court to consider the said issue, while Baylson stated that he was the first judge to rule on the said classification under federal law.