Specifically, the lawsuit, filed by Sophano Van, an Uber driver and resident of Los Angeles, claims that Uber’s new “upfront” pricing model requires drivers to take the shortest routes possible but provides free fare estimates to users for longer than intended routes. Drivers, the suit claims, are paid for the short route, with Uber keeping the difference.
According to the proposed class action, Uber manipulates the navigation data used to determine the amount of the fare paid by users and the amount reported and paid to its drivers. The software allegedly calculates the upfront price displayed and charged to the customers, and calculates the anticipated distance and time using a route that is frequently longer in both distance and time to the one shown in the driver’s app.
“Upon conclusion of the transportation, the Uber defendants collect the upfront rate from the user based on the longer route and time calculations but do not transmit the full fare collected to the drivers (minus the per transport service fee to which the Uber defendants are entitled). Instead, the Uber defendants often transmit or provide the driver with a fee based on a reduced fare amount. The Uber defendants retain the difference in the fare charged to the user and the fare reported to the driver, in addition to the service fee and booking fee disclosed to drivers,” the complaint states.
The suit asserts that Uber drivers are deprived of the total fares collected from Uber app users and riders, minus the 20- to 25-percent service and booking fees that Uber usually charges drivers. Additionally, the suit claims that the fare discrepancy is equivalent to workers being denied proper wages under California labor law.
Further, while many Uber drivers are classified as independent contractors, the complaint states that they are actually employees based on the operating parameters that Uber places on drivers using its app.
“They are required to follow a litany of detailed requirements imposed on them by Uber and they are graded, and are subject to termination, based on their failure to adhere to these requirements (such as rules regarding their conduct with customers, the cleanliness of their vehicles, their timeliness in picking up customers and taking them to their destination, what they are allowed to say to customers, etc.),” the complaint states.
The proposed class action alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraud by concealment, unfair competition, Lanham Act violations and independent contractor misclassification on behalf of a proposed class of all Uber drivers, including all UberPool, UberX, Uber Select, Uber Black and Uber SUV drivers, who have worked for Uber in California.
Van is represented by Bobby Saadian and Daniel B. Miller of Wilshire Law Firm. The case is Van v. Rasier, LLC et al, case number 2:17-cv-02550, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.