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Uber in court again over driver contracts

Uber is a popular ride-finding service for individuals in major metropolitan areas. New Jersey residents may have access to Uber drivers in some parts of the state. Though Uber is a highly popular and heavily utilized service, it has gotten a fair amount of bad press in recent months over its practices with regard to employing drivers.

Uber drivers use their own vehicles to transport others to and from destinations. They charge rates for their services and can generally set their own schedules. However, in the last year, some of Uber's drivers have come together to sue the company in order to be recognized as employees instead of simply as contractors. The class action lawsuit is still pending and the drivers included in the lawsuit have their own representation for the legal matter.

In the last week, an Uber driver currently covered by the class action litigation received a new contract from Uber that had not been sent to his attorney. The new contract included, among other provisions, the requirement that Uber drivers resolve their problems with the company through arbitration rather than through litigation. The attorney for the driver informed the court hearing the class action lawsuit of the problematic contract and expressed concern that Uber could be eliminating drivers from the class action by tricking them into signing the new agreement. In response to the lawyer's comments, the judge has told Uber to stop disseminating the agreement.

The right to be part of the Uber class action lawsuit could have significant ramifications upon the earning potential and employment status of a driver, by providing drivers with perplexing new contracts Uber may have caused some individuals to compromise their statuses in the class action. As the class action lawsuit moves forward, Uber will have to be very careful of how it prepares contracts with its employees to ensure that those agreements do not affect the pending litigation. Contracts, like these, are important legal documents through which individuals and businesses can acquire and lose rights.

Source: Bloomberg Business, "Judge Faults Uber for Confusing Drivers With New Contract," Joel Rosenblatt, Dec. 17, 2015

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