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10 min read

    10 min read

    Recently, drivers affiliated with either the O’Connor vs Uber or Yucesoy vs. Uber lawsuits received notices that they would be receiving settlement checks in the mail. What happens if your settlement check is not what you expected, and you don’t want to accept the settlement? Senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins outlines what drivers should know about accepting or declining future Uber settlements.

    Uber and Lyft have been in the news a lot over the past few years with the focus being worker misclassification. There are a few lawsuits that focus on whether or not these rideshare companies have been misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors when really they should be considered employees.

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    Two of these settlements are starting to pay out; namely O’Connor v. Uber and Yucesoy v. Uber. These two class action lawsuits are for drivers in California and Massachusetts who used the app as drivers between August 16, 2009 and February 28, 2019. It is only available to drivers who are not bound by Uber’s arbitration clause.

    Both lawsuits have reached a settlement and as part of that, Uber has agreed to pay $20,000,000 and will change certain policies that affect drivers as part of the settlement agreement. It does not reclassify drivers as employees and the amount each driver will receive is based on miles driven while using the Uber app with a passenger on board.

    What Class Action Lawsuit Settlements Are Paying Out?: O’Connor and Yucesoy

    The lawsuit of Yucesoy v. Uber was filed in August of 2015. The lawsuit of O’Connor v. Uber was filed in August of 2013.

    According to UberLitigation.com:

    The central issue in both of these lawsuits is whether Uber has misclassified drivers as independent contractors, as opposed to its employees.

    In the O’Connor lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that because drivers are employees, certain of Uber’s conduct and policies toward drivers in California violated California labor law. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed Uber failed to reimburse drivers for vehicle-related and phone expenses and failed to pass along to drivers the entire portion of the fare that allegedly represents a tip.

    In the Yucesoy lawsuit, the plaintiffs alleged that because drivers are employees, certain of Uber’s conduct and policies toward drivers in Massachusetts violated Massachusetts labor law. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed Uber unlawfully classified drivers as independent contractors, failed to reimburse drivers for their expenses, failed to pass along to drivers the entire portion of the fare that allegedly represents a tip, and interfered with drivers’ relationships with passengers.

    Uber denies any wrongdoing and liability and contends that it correctly classified drivers as independent contractors and complied at all times with applicable California and Massachusetts law.”

    At this point, it’s too late for drivers to opt into these settlements, but those who did decide to participate are starting to receive their checks.

    According to a federal notice about this lawsuit settlement,

    “Assuming a 50% claims rate, the average net settlement share per claiming Settlement Class Member will be $2,206.

    Assuming a 100% claims rate, drivers who drove 0-1,000 miles may receive more than $180, whereas drivers who drove 10,000 miles may receive almost $2,000.

    Drivers who drove 100,000 miles may receive more than $18,000. If there is a 50% claims rate, these estimates would double for drivers who submit claims.”

    The changes in policy that Uber has agreed to as part of this settlement is:

    1. Low acceptance rates are not grounds for account deactivation.
    2. Uber will maintain its comprehensive Policy online in an easily-accessible and easily-understood format.
    3. Uber will provide advance warning before a Driver’s user account is deactivated for reasons other than safety issues, physical altercation discrimination, fraud, sexual misconduct, harassment, or illegal conduct (each, an “Excluded Matter”).
    4. Uber will provide the Driver with an explanation for its decision to deactivate the account.

    Drivers will want to determine if the checks have had taxes taken out or if this is something they’ll need to set aside for the end of the year so there are no surprises. This is especially important if you’re a driver who is receiving thousands of dollars in the settlement.

    What Happens if Drivers Accept or Reject the Settlement

    There are reasons why a driver would accept or reject a settlement. It varies by settlement and by driver.

    One reason may be because, by law, the driver cannot participate due to the arbitration agreement that many have signed with Uber and/or Lyft. If you have not opted out of arbitration, you’re likely unable to participate in most of these class action lawsuits because they are really mass arbitration settlements.

    According to attorney Mark Potter, of Potter Handy, LLP, a law firm that RSG contributor Jay Cradeur has worked with,

    “There’s no determination of fairness, no determination of proper attorneys’ fees and costs, and no opportunity for you to formally object to the settlement. Instead, you are offered the settlement on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

    Because the negotiations occur behind closed doors, companies like Uber and Lyft to cut deals that leave you with pennies on the dollar. In fact, it’s not uncommon for these settlements to settle for as low as $0.11 per mile driven in phase 3 only.

    Keep in mind that the current rate for reimbursement of driving expenses is $0.58 per mile driven for phases 1, 2, and 3, and that represents only one type of recovery available to most drivers.”

    Potter is not trying to say that all mass arbitration settlements are bad. Plus, even if the amount seems low, it could be a good deal for a specific driver at a specific time. As they say, something is better than nothing, right?

    If it’s not right for you, you can just say no to the settlement and move on. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, call an attorney. You can reach out to Mark Potter here.

    If Drivers Accept the Settlement

    If drivers accepted this settlement or any other settlement like it, they are not able to participate in any other settlement that addresses the same issues.

    According to UberLitigation.com,

    “You can’t sue, continue to sue, or be part of any other lawsuit against Uber about the legal issues addressed in these lawsuits. It also means that all of the Court’s orders will apply to you and legally bind you.”

    If you are in the process of suing Uber under another lawsuit, you have to decide which to pursue. If you want to exclude yourself from a settlement, you’ll need to submit a request for exclusion before the deadline to do so for the settlement in question.

    In the case of the O’Connor v. Uber and Yucesoy v. Uber settlements, this deadline has passed and you are no longer able to exclude yourself.

    If you accept the settlement, you’ll be able to receive a payout from the settlement based on whatever criteria is involved.

    If Drivers Don’t Accept the Settlement

    If you don’t accept the settlement, you have the right to sue Uber as part of another settlement for the same issues. You have the potential to get a bigger payout, or you could be settling for a lower payout since you’ll be trading a sure thing for the unknown.

    The risk is something you’ll have to weigh for yourself. If you’re expecting, say, $50, you’ll have to decide for yourself if that’s worth it to settle the issue, or if you think you’ll be able to get more later on.

    What Drivers Are Saying

    Many drivers on the driver-centric forum UberPeople have stated that they called the hotline and were told their checks were mailed on July 22, 2020.

    As of July 24, people started posting that they’d received their checks:

    “I was told $5,579. Less than I was expecting but more than I have.”

    “I drove 36k miles and got $8k check. Mine comes out at $0.22 a mile. It was sent out on the 22nd! Unless my estimate of 36k miles driven is wrong. Oh well hopefully we get another check!”

    “Received $9200, expected 12,000.. I have all the records of on line miles. Remember that even after the deadline passed the Atty continued to send out invitations for drivers to sign up, as late as June 2020..”

    “Mailed 7/23. It’s for around $1900, but considering that I was almost Lyft-only for the 2.5 years I lived in LA, that’s understandable.”

    We heard from other drivers that they are being quoted various amounts of per mile rates. One driver said he was offered $.11 a mile, another was offered 20 cents per mile, and yet another driver emailed us that he was expecting 37 cents per mile.

    It seems like drivers are receiving roughly around 20 cents per mile, but it’s hard to verify given confidentiality settlements.

    Additional Lawsuits to Know About

    If you did not qualify for the Yucesoy or O’Connor lawsuits, you may be interested in two new lawsuits being pursued by the law firm of Francis, Mailman & Soumilas.

    Deactivated Due to Background Checks

    In this case, Francis, Mailman and Soumilas are accepting drivers who have been deactivated due to their background checks taking too long to process. Drivers have been taking to the internet with issues of their background checks being “pending” since March or April, sometimes even longer, keeping them from earning on the platform for months.

    The law firm is looking for people who’ve been deactivated or applied and denied and it’s been at least a month since their background check was processed.

    You can sign up right now, and you should sooner rather than later. Email Mark directly at [email protected].

    All of these cases will be individual cases instead of mass arbitration like the lawsuits mentioned in the beginning of this article.

    Former Uber Black/SUV Drivers

    This second case is about Uber’s refusal to honor its representations that particular vehicles could be used to drive for the more-selective Uber BlackSUV platform, causing drivers to lose income.

    According to the article about the case, “The lawsuit alleges that in September 2019, Uber abruptly changed its vehicle eligibility requirements for Uber BlackSUV, removing multiple vehicles from its approved list and therefore cutting off all drivers who were using those vehicles to earn an expected rate.”

    Basically, if you bought an Uber Black/SUV car to drive specifically for Uber Black/SUV and then Uber changed the rules to say your car no longer qualified, this isn’t fair and Francis, Mailman & Soumilas are filing a class action lawsuit against this.

    They are interested in talking to as many people as possible who have been affected by this, and you can go to their website to apply and learn more.

    This is a class action lawsuit and they are still accepting people to this class action.

    Summary

    Lawsuit payouts don’t happen overnight and they can get complicated — do you take the payout or wait for a potentially bigger payout later?

    Some lawsuits are very specific to your location, and when you were driving for the apps in question. It’s a good idea to double check that you qualify before getting your hopes up.

    Some lawsuits you need to opt into or opt out of depending on the situation and depending on if you want to participate. Make sure to do your research – or reach out to us here at The Rideshare Guy if you have questions!

    If you have received a check from a settlement, keep in mind that you can’t pursue a lawsuit for the same reasons against the same company. That would basically be double dipping, which is not allowed.

    Drivers, were you part of the O’Connor or Yucesoy lawsuits? What do you think of the outcome?

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    -Paula @ RSG

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins

    Paula Gibbins, a graduate of Augustana University, Sioux Falls, is a part-time rideshare driver and a full-time proofreader. She is based in Minneapolis/St. Paul. In her free time, Paula enjoys reading, playing board games and participating in trivia nights.