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Businesses The Almighty Buck The Courts Transportation United States

Uber Drivers Are Independent Contractors, Not Employees, Judge Rules (reuters.com) 192

Uber drivers are independent contractors, not full-time employees of the ride-hailing company, a federal judge in Philadelphia ruled in what is said to be the first classification of Uber drivers under federal law. Reuters reports: U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson on Wednesday said San Francisco-based Uber does not exert enough control over drivers for its limo service, UberBLACK, to be considered their employer under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The drivers work when they want to and are free to nap, run personal errands, or smoke cigarettes in between rides, Baylson said. Jeremy Abay, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said he would appeal the ruling to the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 3rd Circuit would be the first federal appeals court to consider whether Uber drivers are properly classified as independent contractors.
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Uber Drivers Are Independent Contractors, Not Employees, Judge Rules

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  • Can they be switched to independent contractors too?

    Instead of ride-sharing we'd have class-sharing. Teachers bid on showing up to work that day, lowest bidder gets the classroom.

    Think of all the money we'd save in the short term, and a generation of shitty educated people we'd have in the long term. Shitty education makes for a reliable voter base with the right propaganda campaigns.

    • and a generation of shitty educated people we'd have in the long term

      As opposed to how it is now?

    • Can they be switched to independent contractors too?

      No.

      Because the schools (via collective bargaining with AFSCME) dictate working days, working hours, breaks, holidays, benefits, etc. They are also subject to state certification and licensing, and required to teach certain topics within their discipline. The teachers have zero choice in any of this (except through collective bargaining agreements).

      • I have two words for you:

        Poe's Law.

      • They are also subject to state certification and licensing, and required to teach certain topics within their discipline.

        This sounds like a job for Betsy DeVos, United States Secretary of Education. All we need is for an exemption for character schools to have to deal with public servant unions, which kind of makes sense when a character school is a business and not a public services.

        W.R.T. Poe's Law - I hope I'm wrong about everything.

    • But then teachers could pick what times to work and what days to work like Uber drivers do. I don't how that would work, you'd need a giant pool of teachers and even then you'd end up picking the teachers that will be there during school hours so the end result would be the same as employees.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The IRS has a complex definition of who is an employee vs who is an independent contractor. There is a form SS-8 - Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding [irs.gov] with 47 detailed questions to determine precisely what the status of a worker is. This is important for tax purposes because the IRS expects the Social Security and Medicare taxes to be paid, at least in part, by the employer or else be paid by the independent contractor under the self employment

    • Then I'll be settling back with an extra large tub of tax-deductible popcorn to enjoy the show.

  • perspective (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 )

    Let's say you didn't get the head start (college education) a modestly wealthy family could've afforded you... let's say over and above the hours the wages the job you are qualified to do provides, you can taxi the more fortunate to their destination in order to make your bills more closely resemble your income.

    Are you hoping for government regulation that diminishes your ability to work yourself and your family into solvency and regular groceries?

    • I'm hoping for a government that gives a shit about it's citizens' well being and doesn't stand for an economy where people are desperate they need an Uber job to stay afloat. There is a certain form of slavery that pays the slave just enough to keep going, but not enough to have independence. It felt like a possibility during the Obama administration but now I think America is just fucked.
      • Government is always corrupt, democratic or not, and political corruption always exists, with an edge toward those who can afford to purchase influence.

        A government that gives a shit about it's citizens' well being may well be a Utopian goal not practically available to many, especially those for which $45 a week extra for groceries and medicine is a life changing income difference.

      • There is a comment above that ends:

        The future of the permanent underclass "gig economy" is at stake

        My first thought was that the future has already been decided. The Republicans were desperate to appoint as many federal judges as they could, and these are the sorts of rulings they love making.
        It's a weird way to run a country, but it looks like you're stuck with it.

      • ... an economy where people are desperate they need an Uber job to stay afloat.

        In 2015, Uber drivers averaged $19 per hour. That is more than twice the minimum wage.

        The median household income in America is $53k, but many household have more than one earner. The median individual earnings are about $32k, which for a 40 hour work week, is equivalent to about $16 per hour.

        So driving for Uber is a pretty good job. Better pay than most, and you have no boss looking over your shoulder, no annoying coworkers, no office politics, and you can set your own hours.

        • As long as you are going for a wider perspective, how much of that $19/hr then goes to taxes, unemployment insurance and the like that an employer would normally be responsible for? How much gets alloted to vehicle maintenance, additional insurance, etc... How much additional unaccounted-for time is used dealing with the platform, tracking costs, time and accounting requirements (or hiring an accountant to do so)? There are no paid sick or vacation days, no medical insurance, no retirement package or any
        • In 2015, Uber drivers averaged $19 per hour. That is more than twice the minimum wage.

          $19/hour is not too awful as a wage for unskilled work, but $19 as a contracting rate is terrible. IRS mileage rates are around $0.50/mile (expected to cover fuel, maintenance and depreciation on the vehicle), so assuming 20 miles per hour (city driving, lots of stopping) that's $10 gone up front to cover the maintenance, which would not be counted as income for a salaried employee. Now you're looking at $9/hour, and that's before you start covering things like insurance (Uber requires that drivers pay th

        • ... an economy where people are desperate they need an Uber job to stay afloat.

          In 2015, Uber drivers averaged $19 per hour. That is more than twice the minimum wage.

          Minimum wage applies to employees, not contractors. This matters because employees don't have to pay for business expenses or the employer portion of FICA. Once you account for those things, that $19/hour gross income is a lot less net.

    • Are you hoping for government regulation that diminishes your ability to work yourself and your family into solvency and regular groceries?

      You mean regulations that would see you making more money, with more benefits, with more rights against an employer that can let you go for any reason at any time?

    • Are you hoping for government regulation that diminishes your ability to work yourself and your family into solvency and regular groceries?

      Nope. But I'm going to hope the government keeps me from getting fucked over by Uber, which is the only job I can get.

  • It comes down to your employers level of control. Uber gives you the work but that's about it. People may do it full time but that doesn't make you an employee and as much as you might want the benefits that are mandated for employees wanting something doesn't make it true. Think of it another way. When you take a job with a company, you are giving something else up, usually it's your ability to to set your schedule and work for someone else. You aren't forced to give anything up to work for Uber. You
  • since Reagan, so I'm not surprised. They've taken a top down approach to government, and bought it all.

    Mark my words, everybody on this forum, you're next. They Uber rich (pun intended) are coming for your wages, your benefits, your retirement and your property. And why shouldn't they? You keep going to the polls and giving it to them.
    • Yes, because I should vote for a Left that is beyond convinced that we are greedy, racist, sexist, homophobe morons who hate science and love Hitler. All the leftist sects agree - they have found the revealed truth, and imposing it upon the benighted normals like us is so transcendently important that they are relieved of any moral limitations. They *hate* us. Look at Twitter. Look at Facebook. Twitter's CEO retweeted this article and commented "Great read". [archive.fo]

      The next time you call for bipartisan cooperatio

      • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Thursday April 12, 2018 @11:04PM (#56428759)
        the modern American left isn't about any of that. They're about sound economic policy, to wit:

        a. Medicare for all.

        b. End the wars.

        c. College for all.

        d. New New Deal.

        e. Infrastructure spending.

        f. Living Wage.

        The right likes to find our crazies and give them megaphones. It's easy to do because the American right wing owns the media. Ask yourself how often you hear a serious discussion of left wing economic ideas on TV. You don't. Don't be fooled by the right wing media and their cheap identity politics.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          The American right wing owns the media. [imgur.com] OK. LOL! What, like the New York Times, Washington Post [i.redd.it], CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and all the rest? Those are all right wing? [twimg.com] OK buddy, sure. I think you represent some kind of tiny splinter group that has zero traction. The Left is about sound economic policies? It's about borrow and spend to buy votes.

          Right wing identity politics! OMG the Left invented identity politics and used it as a club to beat the crap out of us. It worked, too. They encouraged t

          • with economic ones. On anything that really matters (the economy) the media is hard right. Especially CNN, MSNBC, NBC ABC CBS. Once in a blue moon the Post or Times gets to run some left wing economics, usually with a well known lefty guest editor. But even they don't do reports on stuff that matters [arstechnica.com].

            And yes, right wing identity politics are a thing. They convince white men they have a "culture" instead of an economic future to defend. Antifa is a made up bit of nonsense sold to you so you'll forget abo
        • by grep -v '.*' * ( 780312 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @04:23AM (#56429657)

          They're about sound economic policy, to wit...

          OH. I expected to see a Funny tag on this, was surprised to see Insightful. "Hi! I make Firefox Plug-ins." Oh, it's you. I mostly disagree with you, but do occasionally agree.

          Medicare / College / Living Wage for all. And to use an old /. metaphor: I want a pony. That sounds great -- so free medicare, college, and all jobs pay a minimum of $1M/second. (What? I need a Porsche to drive to work. And you want me to go to work tomorrow too, right? What do you mean in yesterday's USED car? What kind of a heathen ARE you?)

          Ehhh, I'm way tired and so will stop here with my sniping. I will ask what is a living wage? And for what jobs? All of them? So where IS the money going to come for this? (Don't just say "The Government". You have to add "and ..." to the answer.) And how? Are you going to enforce an overall minimum wage? Change the W2 forms to add "hours worked", and throw the bosses in jail if the employee numbers don't work out right? If we pay (say) $20/hour for everyone for flipping burgers (or breathing) then any other job that's harder MUST pay more. How are you to find someone that wants (perhaps even go to school) to learn how to do the harder job just so they can earn the exact same amount. Why bother?

          Personally, I wish they'd raise taxes and more to the point REDUCE SPENDING. Everywhere. Not just reduce the increase, reduce the total amount. On wars. On government grants to business. On roads to nowhere. On the arts. On your sacred cow. On mine. EVERYTHING. Government is a coordinating entity for states, not a CONTROLLING entity. But that's not at all how it seem to run, for multiple decades now. (Here's a hint: the Government is a sink (load), not a source (generator.) THINK about that for a minute - all they do is redirect money-flows.) And BTW, I thought it was the LEFT-wing media. No, really.

          • Personally, I wish they'd raise taxes and more to the point REDUCE SPENDING

            Not going to happen. Why? Anyone who raises taxes will get voted out of office. Anyone who cuts benefits will get voted out of office. That's why Obama signed a bill making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and the Republicans haven't been able to repeal the ACA.

            The short is that we're going to keep cutting taxes and increasing benefits until the country is bankrupt. There's no real way out of it because it's what the voters want, and are willing to vote for (complaining the whole time, of course, and blaming

        • by lgw ( 121541 )

          If the American left were for any of those things, they would have happened when the left controlled the house, senate, and presidency. How gullible do you have to be? Heck, the left didn't even pass a federal law legalizing abortion when the last had the reigns, because they don't actually care about the issue, and they enjoy the "get out the vote" power of the threat of a Republican appointing a Justice who overtures Roe v Wade.

          The right, of course, isn't for any of the things they claim either, or they

          • The Democratic party is *not* the same thing as the American left. There's some overlap, and the left tends to vote Democratic because the other option is the bastshit insane right wing, but the Democratic party is very much a centrist party these days, and has been since Bill Clinton was president.
        • The right likes to find our crazies and give them megaphones. It's easy to do because the American right wing owns the media.

          You can't be serious. You can't. But you are.

          Yes, Trump is is a pissing match with that known right winger, Bezos.

          It's easy to "give your crazies a megaphone", because first, they have almost all the megaphones already (Hollywood, colleges, unions, bureaucracy, media), and secondly, there are so many of them and they are so very crazy.

        • b. End the wars.

          Eh, the left opposes war until a Democratic president starts the war (Obama in Libya, Clinton in the Balkans. Even Bernie Sanders supported that one). The right opposes war until a Republican president starts one (Bush Bush, but again, they opposed Libya and Balkans). Hillary hugely favored using military power.

          The other stuff is reasonable, but the Democratic party is still trying to find an issue (or set of issues) that will help them win the next election. I don't know what issues those will be.

      • by Uberbah ( 647458 )

        Yes, because I should vote for a Left that is beyond convinced that we are greedy, racist, sexist, homophobe morons who hate science and love Hitler.

        You mean Democrats. Democrats are not left, they're another crazy right wing party.

        The American right wing owns the media. [imgur.com] OK. LOL! What, like the New York Times, Washington Post. CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, and all the rest? Those are all right wing?

        Of course they are. Or haven't you not noticed that they've all jumped on the we-need-to-push-Trum

      • Yes, because I should vote for a Left that is beyond convinced that we are greedy, racist, sexist, homophobe morons who hate science and love Hitler. All the leftist sects agree - they have found the revealed truth, and imposing it upon the benighted normals like us is so transcendently important that they are relieved of any moral limitations

        There's something wonderfully ironic about someone describing the left in terms of right-wing straw-man ideas and simultaneously objecting to the left's straw-man depiction of the right.

    • That's the thing I don't get when I hear workers (like coders, developers, and engineers) saying that gig economy is nice.

      I mean, you really don't get what's happening? Nobody is really winning on this, except for a few wealthy people. When they fire you to subcontract you as a 'gig', the economy on this won't go to other workers, but for executives and the owners of the companies in the transaction. You will receive less, have fewer securities, fewer benefits, so you can raise your nose and say that you ar

  • The drivers work when they want to and are free to nap, run personal errands, or smoke cigarettes in between rides, Baylson said.

    I have flex timings, I can come and go as I please, constantly go off for doctor appointment or go home to wait for the proverbial cable guy. I can smoke if I want to between jobs breaks.

    That makes me a contractor! I can float a LLC that will contract with my employer. Then I can control the income stream, call it "Carried interest". I can defer the income, deduct all sorts of expenses ....

    Can I, can I, can I, please please please pretty please with a bow on top?

  • by tsqr ( 808554 ) on Friday April 13, 2018 @08:13AM (#56430149)

    The drivers work when they want to and are free to nap, run personal errands, or smoke cigarettes in between rides

    Sounds like some of the employees of the company I work for.

  • Uber loses appeal in UK employment case / Company must treat its drivers as ‘workers’, tribunal rules https://www.ft.com/content/84d... [ft.com]
  • Because, if Uber drivers are NOT "contractors" and are in fact employees, the effect will be devastation upon the U.S. government. Nearly ALL government agencies employ "contractors". Yet these contractors nearly always are prescribed where to work, when to work, what machines to use, what software to use, etc, etc, etc, etc.

    There is essentially, a bulti-billion dollar can of worms that will be opened by legally defining Uber drivers as employees. And while a few state agencies and the like may want that d

  • I might've missed it but I didn't see a single post that indicates awareness that these are UberBlack drivers who are already limo company employees (as well as California-regulated commercial drivers).

    All of you who thought Uber would be your ticket to riches... and are now resentful that you put extra miles on your new riceburner - in return for finding out that you're nowhere as cool, competent and charismatic as you had thought (those ratings can sure be revealing!) - stand down; this is not your mother

  • Thousands of Americans (and nearly as many H1B Visa holders) are employed as contractors at government agencies.

    - They do not get to choose their work locations
    - They do not get to choose when or what days they work
    - They are required to use specific workstations
    - They do not get to choose what tools or software they use
    - They rarely have any lattitude in initiative or judgment of their work
    - They often spend years, even a decade working on the same contract
    - They often perform identical work as the agency employees

    "You are not an independent contractor if you perform services that can be controlled by an employer (what will be done and how it will be done)."

    If this is the case, nearly ALL the contractors utilized by U.S. government agencies are in fact, disqualified. And this is why, I really don't think they will crack open that can of worms with Uber. Because the spoiled jam that would be released would literally cause a recession.

  • Across the pond Uber has employees rather than independent contractors.
    Perhaps it is easier to buy an American judge?
    British panel rules Uber drivers are employees, not contractors [usatoday.com]

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