A Florida appellate court has ruled that a former Uber driver isn’t entitled to unemployment benefits because he was an independent contractor, not an employee.
The ruling is another win for the San Francisco-based ridebooking service, which is fighting a multi-state legal battle not to be considered an employer so it doesn’t have to pay certain benefits under state labor laws.
The court’s opinion noted that Uber “does not provide benefits such as medical insurance, vacation pay, or retirement pay.”
It sends all drivers an Internal Revenue Service form known as a “1099,” “used to report payments to independent contractors.”
“Drivers exercise a level of free agency and control over their work different from that of the traditional … employer-employee relationship,” said the opinion by Judges Barbara Lagoa, Vance E. Salter and Thomas Logue.
“… Drivers are permitted to work at their own discretion, and Uber provides no direct supervision,” it says. “Further, Uber does not prohibit drivers from working for its direct competitors.
“… Uber drivers like McGillis decide whether, when, where, with whom, and how to provide rides using Uber’s computer programs,” the opinion adds. “This level of free agency is incompatible with the control to which a traditional employee is subject.”
Uber last year settled lawsuits for millions of dollars in California and Massachusetts that allowed it to keep classifying drivers as contractors.
As CEO Travis Kalanick blogged last April, the company hadn’t “always done a good job working with drivers.”
“For example, we don’t have a policy explaining when and how we bar drivers from using the app, or a process to appeal these decisions,” he wrote.
“At our size that’s not good enough. It’s time to change,” he added, saying Uber would “publish a driver deactivation policy for the first time.”
More recently, the company tweeted that Kalanick would authorize Uber to “compensate drivers impacted by (President Donald Trump’s travel) ban pro bono for next 3 months.”