A Triple Legal Treat For Uber

Posted on May 15, 2015 by - Also by this author

We would all agree we live in a litigious society with far too many lawsuits. They clog our court systems with parties quibbling about every possible offense or circumstance.

If you attract one suit after another, however, regarding multiple, unconnected disputes, then maybe the plaintiffs are on to something.

Such is the case with Uber. While a $40 billion (or is it now $50 billion?) capitalized company will attract its share of malcontents and money-grubbers, Uber seems to get it from all sides.

Three recent suits are working their way through the system:

  1. As reported before, drivers are suing Uber and Lyft in class actions over alleged misclassification as independent contractors. They contend they were treated as employees, while compensated like contractors. In fact, the attorney handling the cases for the plaintiffs, Shannon Liss-Reardon, will speak in just a few days at our Leadership Summit in Miami Beach. Article here
  2. A federal judge in San Francisco has allowed a civil lawsuit filed against Uber by an advocacy group for the blind to proceed. The National Federation of the Blind of California and one individual plaintiff allege that the quasi-taxi company violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), along with other state disabilities laws. Article here
  3. And a San Franicsco entrepreneur and former tech buddy of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick cotends in a lawsuit that Uber ripped off its wildly successful idea from his company, Celluride Wireless. Article here

Those are just the primary civil cases so far. Uber is besieged with criminal conduct complaints about its drivers, which has become so common as to qualify as a recurring news theme, i.e. freeway chase, tornado in a trailer park, shark sighting, etc., etc.

Judges and juries will need to decide the merits and culpubability in each of these cases. What we do know is that Uber has been one of the worst corporate citizens to emerge in recent decades. Its very persona, attitude, and public image bleeds with false charm and Freudian slips. Uber's evolution will be an informative case study in public relations seminars for years to come, on what NOT to do.

Uber reminds me of the kid who always gets into fights and then over-explains each one. Is it really just being attacked and victimized? Or does it provoke defensive and justified hitbacks?

Far be it for me to second-guess any jury. But I hope our legal system through these suits will affirm the following, whether plaintiffs win or lose:

1) If you treat someone like an employee, then pay them like one.

2) Blind people deserve the same mobility accesses as those of us who can see.

3) If you create or originate an applied idea in the business world, it belongs to you.

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