Recently, Uber announced that it agreed to pay drivers in California and Massachusetts $100 million in an effort to ensure that the drivers are considered independent contractors, not employees. In just six years, Uber has expanded from its base in San Francisco to over 300 cities across the world. With more than 450,000 drivers using the company’s app each month in the U.S. alone, a determination that its drivers were misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees could be extremely costly for the ride-sharing company, currently valued at $62.5 billion.
The debate concerning the correct classification for these freelancing drivers has grown in recent months, with drivers in states including Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida, and Oregon claiming that they are employees of Uber entitled to the protection of federal and state employment and labor laws. In response to these claims, Uber argues that it simply connects independent drivers with passengers and has no other form of control over drivers who use its service.