“ dress professionally ,” send waiting passengers text messages shortly W r i t i n g
Chapter 2: To become a driver with Uber, an individual must complete an application form; provide evidence of a driver’s license, registration and insurance; undergo a background check; pass a “city knowledge test;” and be interviewed. Drivers sign a contract with Uber that specifies that their relationship is “solely that of independent contracting parties.” Drivers use their own vehicles and are responsible for fuel and maintenance. They set their own hours and work schedules. Drivers can, and frequently do, also work for other online car services. When they transport passengers who have arranged for rides via Uber’s app, Uber receives the full payment, deducts approximately 20 percent of the total fare as a “fee per ride,” and remits the remaining amount to drivers.
Uber sets fares charged to passengers unilaterally and without any input from drivers. The company prohibits drivers from soliciting passengers regarding future rides or booking rides outside of the Uber platform. Violation of this rule results in “immediate suspension from the Uber network.” In addition, the company terminates driers who do not meet its performance standards. Its agreement with drivers gives the company the sole discretion to remove drivers from its app at any time and for any reason.
Drivers are not strictly required to accept all referrals when on duty. Nevertheless, Uber’s Driver Handbook says that “we expect on-duty drivers to accept all ride requests” and drivers with ride acceptance rates of less than 80 percent are in danger of having their Uber accounts suspended. Drivers work unsupervised, but are told to “dress professionally,” send waiting passengers text messages shortly before pickup, restrict radio use to soft jazz or NPR, follow specific customer pickup procedures, and open the car door for passengers. Passengers, in turn, are asked by Uber to complete performance ratings of drivers.
The specific details of Uber’s arrangements with its drivers vary over time and across locations. But under these facts, are Uber drivers employees or independent contractors? Why? (O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30684 (N.D. Cal.))