As we await federal court decisions in San Francisco in two separate class-actions pertaining to this issue against both Uber and Lyft, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has ruled in favor of an Uber driver who filed for unemployment insurance claiming he was an employee. This is just another salvo in what will be an extended battle for ride-sharing companies trying to maintain business models that keep all drivers as independent contractors.
As the Miami Herald reports, Uber driver Darrin McGillis, angry that the company would not help him out after an accident put his UberXL SUV out of commission, set about applying for unemployment and seeking a determination from the Department of Economic Opportunity about his employee status. As he subsequently told BuzzFeed, "I bought this in January to be an Uber XL driver.’ They told me to take it up with Uncle Sam. I said fine, I’ll file unemployment." It was only after he'd begun the filing process that Uber reached out trying to settle with McGillis for $5,000. He tried to negotiate for $8,000, and they allegedly did not respond.
McGillis could have a political goal in mind in pursuing Uber this way he was a 2010 candidate for Florida governor but as of this winter he claims his only source of income was driving for UberXL. Much like in the San Francisco class-action suits, McGillis argued that Uber "directs how, where, and when drivers work." His complaint also stated that drivers "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.”
Similarly, a federal judge has also questioned Uber's practices of directing and managing drivers.
This news comes on the heels of reports last week that a surprising number of UberX drivers are not carrying personal car insurance.
Also, Uber is discussing raising the commissions they take from new drivers, because they can.