Archives: Independent Contractors

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The Next Chapter – Uber Responds to District Court Order With a New Arbitration Agreement

Not only did Uber respond to the district court’s December 9, 2015, ruling (discussed in our December 11 blog) with an immediate notice of appeal, but on December 11 it rolled out a new arbitration agreement for its drivers. This maneuver has garnered considerable media attention and prompted the plaintiffs to file an emergency motion … Continue Reading

District Judge Rules Uber’s Arbitration Agreements Unenforceable on Public Policy Grounds

On September 2, we addressed the much-publicized O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc. case (No. 13-cv-03826-EMC) pending before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. In O’Connor, a group of 160,000 current and former drivers contend that they were Uber’s employees rather than independent contractors and hence entitled to protections provided by the … Continue Reading

Justices Take On Another California Rule – When an Arbitration Agreement Is Too Flawed to Enforce

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review whether the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts a California state court rule on unconscionable provisions that is purportedly applied more stringently to arbitration agreements than to other contracts. Under the California rule, arbitration agreements with more than one unconscionable provision may not be enforced despite an express … Continue Reading

Northern District of California Certifies Part of a Class Against Uber

Much is being reported in the media about the decision of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California certifying a class of drivers for the Uber ride service who contended that they were employees, not independent contractors.  O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Case No. C-13-3826 EMC (September 1, 2015). The case … Continue Reading

DOL Memo Provides Script for FLSA Collective Actions Alleging Independent Contractor Misclassification

The all-time best The Far Side cartoon (based on an unscientific survey, sample size of me) is the one with two deer standing in the forest, one with a red circular target imprinted on its chest. The other deer says, “Bummer of a birthmark, Hal.” Poor Hal. Blessed with the ability to walk upright, but … Continue Reading

Washington Federal Court Decertifies Class of Insurance Agents Alleging Entitlement to Overtime

Challenging the classification of workers as independent contractors continues to be a growing area of focus for plaintiffs’ attorneys. However, as a recent federal case from Washington demonstrates, the fact-intensive inquiry that is the hallmark of the independent contractor inquiry is not compatible with classwide resolution – particular post-Dukes. In Rodney v. Bankers Life and Casualty … Continue Reading

Two California Juries to Decide Whether Uber and Lyft Drivers Are Employees or Contractors

The core business models of both Uber and Lyft have just been turned over to two separate California juries. These groups of randomly selected citizens will determine whether the drivers for both companies have been properly classified as independent contractors, or whether both companies owe potentially millions of dollars in fines and penalties for having failed … Continue Reading

Nevada Supreme Court Finds Class of Strippers Were Employees

Given the extensive use of euphemisms in the exotic dancing trade, we’ll apologize in advance for any unintended puns. We’ve written on the issue of the classification of exotic dancers or strippers in the past [April 8, 2011, October 19, 2011, November 21, 2012], but the question continues to ripple through the courts.  While the … Continue Reading

Conservative Kansas Joins the Liberal Ninth Circuit in Rejecting the Independent Contractor Classification of Delivery Drivers

Last month we blogged about two Ninth Circuit opinions that deemed FedEx Ground drivers to be employees rather than independent contractors under California and Oregon law.  Last week the Kansas Supreme Court joined them, applying Kansas law to reach the same conclusion in Craig v. FedEx Ground System, Inc. (Oct 3, 2014). While the Ninth … Continue Reading

Merits Trump Certification Issues in Two Southern District of New York Cases

Three years ago, the Supreme Court found in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S. Ct. 2541, 2551-52 (2011) that courts “frequently” will need to look to the merits in determining whether certification is appropriate, particularly where the issues of the merits and certification may overlap.  Despite this pronouncement, plaintiffs often assert that courts should … Continue Reading

U.S. Open Umpires and Linesmen Are Independent Contractors, Court Rules

In an opinion that disappointingly failed to take advantage of countless pun opportunities, a federal judge in New York otherwise got it right, ruling that the United States Tennis Association properly classified U.S. Open tennis officials as independent contractors, not employees.  Meyer v. United States Tennis Ass’n, No. 1:11-cv-6268 (S.D.N.Y. Sep. 11, 2014). The lawsuit, … Continue Reading

Arizona District Court Rejects Joint Employer Arguments in Independent Contractor Case Alleging Misclassification of Truck Drivers

A month ago we discussed the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics Corp., Case No. 12-56589 (9th Cir. June 16, 2014), in which the employer treated its delivery drivers as employees in everything but name, resulting in the unsurprising finding that they were employees and not independent contractors.  An Arizona district court has … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Eases Path Toward Class Certification of Independent Contractor Misclassification Claims

Managing independent contractor relationships requires a delicate balance, perhaps best described (unknowingly, of course) by the band .38 Special in the song “Hold On Loosely”: Just hold on loosely But don’t let go If you cling too tightly You’re gonna lose control Maintaining too much control causes the loss of control.  And so it goes … Continue Reading

California Court Proves That They’ll Print Anything These Days With Denial of Decertification in Newspaper Carrier Case

When James Bond brandishes his Walther PPK and walks into a printing plant, you know one thing is certain – you will be “treated” to at least a half-dozen newspaper puns.  And, since this article is about a recent California case involving newspaper carriers, it will, of course, be no different. Ever since Wal-Mart Stores, … Continue Reading

California Court Affirms Summary Judgment Against Putative Class of Insurance Agents

Court Finds That Insurance Agents Were Independent Contractors As A Matter Of Law As we have noted in prior blogs, litigation involving alleged independent contractor status is on the rise, and is increasingly the topic of class action claims. Plaintiffs in these cases tend to argue that they were misclassified as independent contractors and were … Continue Reading

California District Court Denies Certification of Putative Class of Independent Contractor Strippers

COURT:  EXOTIC PERFORMER MUST DANCE THE DANCE TO LEAD A CLASS ACTION An exotic dancer’s effort to certify a class of dancers in a minimum wage suit against an adult night club in California hit a bump and ground to a temporary halt in early October after a federal court determined she could not serve … Continue Reading

$10 Million Settlement for Exotic Dancers a Not-So-Exotic Outcome in Wage Class Actions

If you think wage and hour class actions aren’t very sexy, you’re wrong. A class of exotic dancers in California and other states have received preliminary court approval of a $10 million settlement of their class action suit in which they claimed that their adult nightclub employers misclassified them as independent contractors.  Trauth v. Spearmint … Continue Reading

The Western District of Texas Shows Some True Grit By Refusing To Grant Conditional Certification

In this day and age, finding a court to deny conditional certification of a proposed FLSA class is sometimes about as difficult as successfully remaking a classic Hollywood western with modern actors and sensibilities.  But, just as the Coen Brothers’ True Grit continues to surprise audiences and critics alike as one of the finest remakes … Continue Reading

Court Grants Summary Judgment in Multidistrict Independent Contractor Cases

We’ve written at least three times now on the case of Dukes v. Wal-Mart, now pending before the United States Supreme Court, as it is the largest employment class action in history.  Perhaps a relatively distant second is the collection of cases against FedEx Ground Package System, currently being handled through the multidistrict litigation docket in Northern Indiana.  … Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Denied, But No Class Certification In Tip Dispute

On September 30, 2010, the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts entered an interesting order in a case involving multiple issues under the Fair Labor Standards Act.   In Travers v JetBlue Airways.pdf., airline JetBlue engaged an independent contractor named Flight Services and Systems (“FSS”) to provide skycaps Boston Logan Airport.  Because … Continue Reading
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