A federal judge handed down a significant ruling in favor of the Uber drivers suing the ride-hailing start-up in California for misclassifying workers, expanding the class to a potential total of 160,000 employees.
This summer, after U.S. District Judge Edward Chen granted class-action status to the three drivers who brought the initial suit claiming that they were not just contractors for Uber, and therefore deserved things like health benefits, Uber argued that its drivers aren’t really employees. “The reality is that drivers use Uber on their own terms: they control their use of the app,” the company said in a statement.
After Chen ruled that that was a bunch of baloney, Uber argued that the class should be limited to drivers who did not accept arbitration agreements when first signing up to work for the company, radically diminishing the size of the class in the suit.
But, the Los Angeles Times reports, Chen ruled that that was a bunch of baloney as well. On Wednesday, he certifying an additional subclass of UberBlack, UberX and UberSUV drivers—regardless of whether they accepted a contract an arbitration provision.
“[Judge Chen] has now ruled all of Uber’s arbitration agreements to be unenforceable,” plaintiff lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan told the Times. “We don’t know yet how many drivers will be covered, but it will be many thousands more who can now be included. We are very pleased with this ruling.”
“As employees, drivers would lose the personal flexibility they value most—they would have set shifts, earn a fixed hourly wage and be unable to use other ride-sharing apps,” Uber said in a statement to the Wall Street Journal that was surely not meant to be interpreted as a threat.