SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – In what could be a game-changing decision, the California Labor Commission has ruled that an Uber driver should be classified as an employee, and not an independent contractor.
The ruling actually came down in March and came to light this week after Uber filed an appeal. The California Labor Commission ruled that Barbara Ann Berwick, a former Uber driver in San Francisco, be reimbursed $4,152.50 for expenses and other costs while she was a driver.
Berwick filed an initial claim with the Labor Commissioner’s office on September 16, 2014. The complaint alleged that she was owed wages earned and unpaid from July 25, 2014 to September 16, 2014, along with the reimbursement of expenses, liquidated damages and waiting time penalties.
A hearing was held in March in San Francisco and the Labor Commission ruled that Berwick was indeed an employee of Uber, and the company must reimburse her.
Uber issued the following statement on its website regarding the case. “The California Labor Commission’s ruling is non-binding and applies to a single driver. Indeed it is contrary to a previous ruling by the same commission, which concluded in 2012 that the driver ‘performed services as an independent contractor, and not as a bona fide employee.’ Five other states have also come to the same conclusion. It’s important to remember that the number one reason drivers choose to use Uber is because they have complete flexibility and control. The majority of them can and do choose to earn their living from multiple sources, including other ride sharing companies.”
Uber has long contended that it is a technological platform used by independent drivers and their passengers to arrange and pay for rides.