Uber Driver May Proceed With Minimum Wage Claim

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By Kevin McGowan

A driver for Uber Technologies Inc. in Oklahoma may proceed with a claim the company failed to pay him the minimum wage but lacks an overtime pay claim ( Bradshaw v. Uber Techs., Inc. , 2017 BL 190580, W.D. Okla., No. 16-388, 6/6/17 ).

The June 6 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma doesn’t resolve the question of whether Uber drivers are employees rather than independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage laws.

But driver Kevin Bradshaw adequately raised a minimum wage claim based on allegations that in 2015, he worked 1,500 hours for Uber but netted only $872 for the year after deducting relevant expenses, the court said.

That’s sufficient to pursue a claim that Uber failed to pay the legally required minimum wage, Judge David L. Russell wrote.

Uber faces numerous lawsuits nationwide by drivers challenging their independent contractor status. The ride-hailing giant has succeeded in getting many of those claims sent to arbitration under its standard driver contracts.

Bradshaw’s claims aren’t being arbitrated because he opted out of that part of the driver’s agreement, said Paul Maslo of Napoli Shkolnik PLLC in New York, one of the lawyers representing Bradshaw.

Bradshaw now gets to engage in discovery on the minimum wage issue, Maslo told Bloomberg BNA June 7.

Attorneys representing Uber didn’t respond to requests for comment June 7.

In the Oklahoma case, Uber conceded it’s covered by the FLSA but disputed that Bradshaw and other drivers are “employees” under the act.

It asked the district court to dismiss Bradshaw’s federal and state pay claims because he failed plausibly to allege his compensation fell below the $7.25 per hour minimum wage.

Classification Issue Deferred

Bradshaw failed to allege sufficient facts to support an overtime pay claim, the court decided.

It deferred addressing until later in the litigation the question of whether Uber drivers were wrongly classified as independent contractors and must be considered statutory employees.

Bradshaw’s lawyers will file an amended complaint seeking to revive his claim that Uber unlawfully denied him overtime pay when he worked more than 40 hours a week, Maslo said.

No Fraud on Earnings, Tips

Bradshaw also contended that Uber breached an implied contract or improperly interfered with his business relationships by barring passenger tips.

Nothing in the Labor Department’s FLSA regulations overrides an “express agreement” between a company and worker not to allow tips, the court said.

The agreement between Uber and its drivers provides that drivers will be paid only a portion of the fare and that no part of the fare includes a gratuity.

The court also dismissed Bradshaw’s claim that Uber may be liable for fraud or misrepresentation by misleading drivers about the amounts they could earn.

Bradshaw failed to identify any company statements that led him to believe he could earn at least $2,000 a week or that he could accept tips despite Uber’s instructions to the contrary.

Uber in January settled for $20 million a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit alleging the company unlawfully misrepresented how much drivers could earn.

McIntyre Law PC also represented Bradshaw. Littler Mendelson represented Uber.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kevin McGowan in Washington at kmcgowan@bna.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at maulino@bna.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bna.com; Chris Opfer at copfer@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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