Uber and its Driver-Partners: Labor Challenges in the On-Demand Transportation Networking Sector
This case explores the nature of the relationship between Uber Technologies, Inc., and its driver-partners. Uber touted itself as a technology company that licensed an app to independent contractors acting as drivers. However, some Uber driver-partners were unhappy and their lawyers filed lawsuits seeking class action status. The driver-partners believed that Uber should have treated them as employees and should have given them benefits (e.g., workers' compensation and reimbursement for their expenses). They complained that Uber unfairly denied them gratuities. The case provides a brief history of Uber Technologies, its competitors, and the taxi and limousine industry, discusses the requirements for working as an Uber driver-partner, and delves into litigation related to Uber's labor practices. It raises substantial questions about how to classify workers (employee v. contractor) and how to develop human resource practices in the sharing economy.