Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Subject to Being Deposed in Federal Wage Theft Lawsuit
Judge denies Uber’s motion to dismiss CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber investor Bill Gurley as defendants
(New York, NY) – On Tuesday, April 4, Federal Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein for the US Southern District denied Uber’s motion to dismiss individual defendants, including Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber investor Bill Gurley, in a Federal Lawsuit filed by Uber drivers and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance against Uber under the Fair Labor Standard Act. The suit claims Kalanick and others misclassified Uber drivers as independent contractors to deprive them of their rights under labor law, including the right to minimum wage and overtime protections. The suit also claims Uber illegally deducted sales tax and an injured worker fund surcharge from workers’ pay.
Uber’s CEO along with Uber investor Bill Gurley will, for the first time, both be subject to giving depositions in a wage theft suit filed by Uber drivers. Several other Uber officials are also named as defendants in the suit as well as the company itself.
“We couldn’t be more proud of our members staring down their billionaire bosses in federal court,” said NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai. “We’re looking forward to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick having to face the court and be held accountable for stealing from hardworking drivers who have been pushed into poverty by his greedy and unlawful business practices.”
Uber sought to have the defendants dismissed and also sought dismissal of minimum wage violation claims by several of the plaintiffs. The judge denied these motions as well as a motion to dismiss charges related to drivers buying luxury vehicles on the basis of promises made by Uber that they would be eligible to drive for the more lucrative UberBlack only to be told once in debt from the purchases that their vehicles no longer qualified.
“I have worked night and day for Uber but despite my loyalty to the company Uber violated my contract and broke the law by taking sales tax out of my pay and by sometimes paying me below minimum wage,” said Uber driver Inder Parmar who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “All I want is to be able to support my family but with Uber’s wage theft and unfair policies it seems that no matter how many hours I work it’s impossible to make ends meet. Finally, the people responsible, like Kalanick and Gurley, will have to answer for their actions.”
Despite acknowledging the important role that NYTWA plays in advocating for drivers’ rights the judge dismissed the New York Taxi Workers Alliance as a plaintiff saying the Fair Labor Standards Act only allows employees to sue not organizations. NYTWA will stay closely involved in the case and will continue to support drivers as their lawsuit against Uber continues. Counsel for the plaintiffs are considering filing a motion for reconsideration on the basis that the association has the right to represent its members who are employees.
The judge called for the expedited proceedings considering the economic impact on the driver plaintiffs.
“We’re elated that the case is moving forward with all the labor violations claims and all the defendants and will do so on an expedited timeline,” said Jeanne Mirer, counsel for the plaintiffs. “For too long, Uber drivers have had their wages stolen and their rights violated with little recourse. Now they have the opportunity to seek justice in a federal court of law.”