Today I woke up to a slew of e-mails, Facebook messages and Tweets about Uber’s new driver-partner agreement that was sent out to all drivers early this morning. In short, it’s a 21 page PDF that you will need to agree to in order to go online and drive the next time you sign in.
I would read the document carefully, but in case you want the cliff notes, I’ve been researching all morning and will update this article accordingly as soon as I get more information.
Here’s a link to the document if you’d like to read it: Uber’s New Driver-Partner Agreement
The part that stands out to me is all the way down on Page 15 where it talks about arbitration. On Wednesday, Uber lost a HUGE ruling in the employee misclassification lawsuit that basically opened up the class action lawsuit to all drivers in California (and potentially all drivers in the US). This latest partner agreement is obviously a clear response to losing that motion in court since, if you sign this new agreement, you will not be able to participate in any past, current or future class action lawsuits.
How To Opt Out Of The Arbitration Agreement
In order to opt out of the arbitration clause of this agreement, you’ll need to send an e-mail to email@example.com with your name and the state you’d like to opt out of. You should note that you have 30 days to opt out from the day you sign this new agreement.
One thing to note is that you will still be able to drive after you opt out of the arbitration agreement. You still have to agree to all the other provisions but at least you can opt out of the arbitration part by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For me, this is kind of a no-brainer to opt out since it gives you the option to participate in this class action lawsuit or future ones. It doesn’t mean you are agreeing to sue or even agreeing to be an employee, it just gives you more options down the road. If you don’t opt out, you would have to individually take Uber to arbitration to sue over the employee misclassification lawsuit or any other issue in the future for that matter.
Honestly, I think this is a pretty shady tactic by Uber. Uber knows that most drivers aren’t going to read the entire document or even understand it (I’d say close to half of drivers are ESL) and then send an e-mail to opt out, so Uber benefits greatly from this.
I recently met with Uber and they told me all about how much they care about drivers and how they’re working very hard to make things better, but it’s things like this that make me think they are full of shit. Uber definitely isn’t the only company that tries to slip these arbitration opt-out clauses into agreements but I do think that this tactic should be illegal.
Regardless of how you feel on the employee vs 1099 issue, class actions are an important part of the judicial system since it allows drivers to take on $60 billion companies like Uber. Most drivers wouldn’t be able to hire a lawyer, much less a top one that would be able to compete with Uber’s $1,000/hr team of lawyers.
To me, class actions are important because it holds companies accountable and opt out agreements like this basically limit the potential damages.
E-Mail Template For Opting Out
If you’d like to opt-out, here’s a template you can use. Send it to email@example.com
My name is (name) and I live in (state). I am formally notifying Uber of my intent to opt-out of the arbitration provision on this day, (date).
Can Uber Retaliate If Drivers Opt Out?
We’ve all heard stories of Uber deactivating drivers for no reason and a few drivers have asked me if Uber can retaliate if they opt out of this agreement. It turns out that it’s actually illegal for Uber to deactivate drivers for opting out. If you have any further questions, I’d definitely contact the lawyer representing drivers (Shannon Liss-Riordan) for this case, but I can’t imagine Uber would even consider doing this as it’s not only illegal but would also bring a shit storm of bad press and future lawsuits onto them.
Shannon Liss-Riordan On The Latest Agreement
I also received an e-mail from the plaintiff’s lawyer on this case so I thought I’d share it here. If you have questions about the lawsuit, you can go to Uberlawsuit.com for more info or contact them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
We learned this morning that, following our victory in court on Wednesday, Uber is now trying to avoid the court ruling by sending drivers a new agreement containing a revised arbitration clause. We are working now on a motion asking the court to block this new agreement. We believe that Uber’s action in trying to limit the class, after the court has certified it, is illegal, and we will ask the court to take measures to stop Uber from doing this.
In the meantime, if you are a current Uber driver, you should feel free to continue working. You will need to accept the agreement in order to continue driving for Uber. But assuming you want to be included in this case, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY OPT OUT OF THE NEW ARBITRATION CLAUSE BY SENDING AN EMAIL TO optout@Uber.com. Include your name and state that you wish to opt out of the arbitration provision. The deadline for opting out is 30 days from when you agree to the new agreement. Although we are going to try to stop Uber from using this agreement to limit the scope of the class in this case, anyone who wants to participate should opt out of the arbitration clause just in case our effort to block Uber from doing this is not successful.
Ultimately, the decision is up to you though whether or not to opt out of this agreement. So what will you be doing?
Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on Uber’s latest partner-driver agreement and what it means for drivers? Did you opt out of the agreement? Yes or no and why?
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-Harry @ RSG