Uber Seeks To Head Off Lawsuits With New Binding Driver Agreement
by Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle
Two days after a federal judge expanded a class-action lawsuit by California Uber drivers seeking to be employees and not contractors, Uber on Friday sent all its U.S. drivers a 21-page legal agreement that would bar them from participating in future class-action suits against the company.
All 400,000-plus drivers cannot receive any ride requests until they accept the agreement, which lays out a lengthy provision requiring mandatory arbitration starting on page 15 and flagged on the first page. While it includes a way to opt out, many drivers may not understand that or may fear retaliation for doing so.
“We believe this is an illegal attempt by Uber to usurp the court’s role now in overseeing the process of who is included in the class,” said Shannon Liss-Riordan, the Boston lawyer representing the drivers, in an e-mail.
Liss-Riordan said she will ask U.S. District Judge Edward Chen on Thursday for anemergency motion to block Uber from enforcing the new agreement.
An Uber spokesman said the company told Chen in court Thursday of its intentions and that he verbally approved them. Uber said it will produce a transcript of that interchange soon. Liss-Riordan’s emergency motion said she had not been informed of any such authorization.