The US government is watching out for the 99%, even if much of the news says it’s often for sale to the top 1%. At least that’s one conclusion to draw from a federal judge denying Uber — the ride hailing giant — the ability to settle with its freelance drivers for $100 million. In question is the very definition of employment, which assigns various, onerous responsibilities to employers under the law — like minimum wage guarantees and payroll taxes.
Does Uber virtually employ its drivers — or merely provide drivers with a service they use to employ themselves? In April Uber reached an agreement to pay the $100 million to settle the claims of almost 400,000 drivers represented in a class action lawsuit. In the settlement, the drivers were denied employee status. Judge Edward M. Chen, in the Federal District Court for Northern California, said this week that the settlement was not “fair, adequate, and reasonable.” Uber is worth more than $60 billion. The company is working diligently to put self-driving cars on the road for its riders.