Calif. Court: Uber Can’t Force Arbitration in Dispute Over Whether Ex-Driver is Employee

Ride-sharing service Uber can’t force a former driver into arbitration to determine whether she was an employee or an independent contractor, a state judge in California ruled on Monday.

It’s the latest twist in a case brought by ex-Uber driver Barbara Berwick, who won a ruling in
June from the state labor commission that she was an Uber employee. According to that ruling, Uber “is involved in every aspect of the operation,” vetting drivers, setting standards and establishing nonnegotiable rates. The company also can fire drivers who receive low ratings from customers.

Now a state judge has sided with Berwick in her dispute with the company as to whether her employee status is to be determined by an arbitrator.  In his ruling on Monday, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith found that Uber’s contract is “flatly inconsistent” because it says in one provision that a private arbitrator decides whether a dispute should be resolved in arbitration, but another cause says that the choice is to be made by a judge.

Uber is planning to appeal the ruling to a state appeals court.


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