If the filing is granted by the judge, the motion would substantially streamline the case and answer the vexing question: are Uber drivers employees or not?
The proposed class-action lawsuit, known as Diva Limousine v. Uber, relies on a recently decided California Supreme Court decision that makes it more difficult for companies to unilaterally declare their workers as contractors, which effectively deprives them of benefits that they would otherwise receive as employees.
In the October 5 filing, Diva Limousine's lawyers wrote:
This Court can decide that issue and substantially streamline this case by answering one question: Is providing rides an integral part of Uber's business? If the answer is yes, Uber drivers are Ubers employees. Courts in this district and elsewhere have already answered this question in the affirmative. Because no genuine dispute of material fact exists, the court should grant partial summary judgment on the issue of misclassification.
If US District Judge Edward Chen rules in favor of Diva Limousine on this motion, he would significantly bolster its case. It he does not, the company's arguments will be notably hampered.
In the California Supreme Court case, known as Dynamex, that court came up with a three-part test, known as the ABC test, to figure out whether companies can assert contractor status or not.
(A) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact, (B) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity's business, and (C) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business, the worker should be considered an employee and the hiring business an employer under the suffer or permit to work standard in wage orders.
At least one labor-law professor thinks that Diva Limousine has a compelling argument here.
"The standard for summary judgement is that there is no triable issue of material facts. That seems to be the case here," says Professor Veena Dubal of the University of California, Hastings, which is just blocks from Uber's headquarters in San Francisco.
"Under Dynamex, workers are likely employees for purposes of minimum wage and overtime if they perform work that is within the usual course of the hiring entity's business. Uber drivers provide rides, and Uber is a transportation company that facilitates the provision of those rides. I have a hard time imagining how Uber can argue that there is a triable issue of fact here, although I am confident that they will argue that they are a software company. They have lost that argument in courts across the world."
Attorneys representing Diva Limousine and Uber are set to appear before Judge Chen on November 15.