Uber faces new legal action on driver status

Protestors Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Uber has been subject to protests over the way it treats its drivers

Taxi-hailing firm Uber faces a fresh lawsuit challenging the status of its drivers, following out-of-court settlements in California and Massachusetts.

A suit filed in the Northern District of Illinois is seeking to reclassify drivers as employees rather than contractors.

In previous settlements, Uber agreed to pay up to $100m (£68m) to drivers.

Crucially though, it did not have to reclassify them as employees.

Reclassification of US Uber drivers would mean they would be entitled to a range of benefits, including sick leave, overtime, health insurance and a minimum wage.

Own boss

Uber did make a few concessions in the Massachusetts and California lawsuits, including promising to create a drivers' association and rewriting its policy about terminating contracts.

At the time of the settlement, many of Uber's critics were disappointed that it would no longer go to court.

One of the lawyers for the drivers, Shannon Liss-Riordan, said that there was "significant risk of losing", due to a federal appeals court reviewing whether drivers can sue as a group.

In response to the new lawsuit, Uber told the BBC: "Nearly 90% of drivers say the main reason they use Uber is because they love being their own boss.

"As employees, drivers would have set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage, and lose the ability to drive with other ridesharing apps - as well as the personal flexibility they most value."

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