On June 3, 2015, the California Labor Commissioner found an Uber driver to be an employee, and thus eligible for reimbursement for mileage and other expenses while providing rides for the tech company, which claims to be engaged in the business of providing lead generation to transportation providers using its mobile application. (Berwick v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Labor Commissioner Case No.: 11-46739 EK http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/04954780-Page0-20.pdf) Uber Technologies Inc. is appealing the decision in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco. This case coincides with recent federal court wage and hour claims, in which Uber and a similar provider, Lyft, are defending claims that the transportation providers are employees and misclassified as independent contractors. (O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-03826-EMC (N.D. Cal. Mar. 11, 2015); Cotter v. Lyft, Inc., No. 3:13-cv-04065-VC (N.D. Cal. Mar. 11, 2015))
The Labor Commissioner decision, predictably, points to the increasing trend of stringent enforcement in California worker classification matters. We will be watching the developments in these cases very closely. If you have California or federal worker classification issues, it is important to find knowledgeable and skilled representation, as the tax and labor law ramifications can be considerable.