Gig News: Named Plaintiff, Others Object to Uber Settlement
Caroline O’Donovan reports for Buzzfeed that named plaintiff Douglas O’Connor is among those who have filed objections to the proposed settlement in O’Connor v. Uber, the federal class action challenging the classification of Uber drivers as independent contractors. O’Connor “is removing his name from the landmark class-action suit for which he was a key plaintiff. He is also replacing Shannon Liss-Riordan, his legal counsel and architect of what he describes as a “disastrous” settlement, with L.A. lawyers Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck.” O’Connor’s full Declaration can be found here.
The objectors and Liss-Riordan dispute the reasonableness of the proposed settlement. O’Connor contends that “under the agreement, Uber drivers are being sold out and shortchanged by billions of dollars while sacrificing the determination of their classification as employees. Additionally, while the settlement includes a nonmonetary component, those provisions will expire after only two years and serve as mere window dressing for an otherwise deficient agreement.” Wired further notes that “as part of the settlement process, other drivers in the class have  filed numerous objections with the court over the last month, disputing matters such as how reimbursement costs have been computed and Uber’s disproportionate control over their actions on the job.”
Liss-Riordan continues to defend the adequacy and significance of the proposed settlement. In a previous statement, she outlined the “very significant changes that will improve work conditions for Uber drivers” in addition to the $84 to $100 million monetary settlement, including but not limited to protections against at-will driver termination, the formation of driver associations, and the ability of drivers to actively solicit tips. She believes that “the settlement we have been able to negotiate for Uber drivers throughout California and Massachusetts provides significant benefits – both monetary and non-monetary – that will improve the work lives of the drivers and justifies this compromise result (which will not result in the drivers being reclassified).”
Additionally, Liss-Riordan has stressed that absent a settlement, an appellate court may have invalidated Judge Edward Chen’s expansive class certification finding Uber’s driver arbitration clauses unenforceable. As we’ve previously noted, “three other federal cases were recently dismissed by federal district judges who enforced Uber’s mandatory arbitration clauses.”
OnLabor will continue to monitor developments as the proposed settlement awaits approval or rejection by Judge Chen.