Uber's never-ending stream of lawsuits: More than 70 pending suits against company in US

by Sean Riley


KSAT

Since its launch in 2009, Uber has been juggling a nonstop barrage of lawsuits from governments, drivers, passengers and competitors. Some have been settled out of court while others have dragged on indeterminably.

In the U.S., there are more than 70 pending federal suits against the company and many more in state courts. There are also battles taking places in governments and courts around the world. Even with an estimated value of more than $60 billion, those billable hours have to be taking a toll as Uber expands to more than 400 cities around the world.

It's of the biggest battles Uber has been fighting since it launched. The company says full- and part-time drivers who ferry passengers around are not employees, but contractors -- and that factors into a large number of ongoing lawsuits.

In case you can't keep track of all of Uber's challenges -- and you're not alone -- here's a closer look at some of the most significant and controversial lawsuits the company currently faces in the U.S.

In one of the biggest ongoing class action lawsuits, drivers have accused Uber of misclassifying them as contractors when they're actually treated as employees.

Lawyers for California and Massachusetts drivers in the case reached a tentative $100 million settlement earlier this year that would not change drivers' statuses, but would add certain protections and allow them to solicit tips. The settlement has not been approved and a number of drivers' groups are unhappy with the deal. Only drivers in Massachusetts and California would be eligible for the payout, but drivers across the U.S. would gain new termination protections.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a union representing 5,000 Uber drivers, filed a suit in federal court against Uber on behalf of 10 drivers for misclassification. That proposed class action suit claims drivers are employees and therefor eligible for minimum wage, overtime and expense reimbursement.

In Austin, Texas, multiple drivers are suing Uber and Lyft for back pay and benefits after the companies abruptly stopped service in the city. When the ride-sharing companies lost a vote that would have required stricter background checks, they ceased service in the city a day later. Drivers claim they should have received more notice and are asking for back pay and benefits.

Insisting drivers are contractors and not employees can also limit Uber's liability when individual drivers do something illegal. However, that hasn't stopped riders from naming Uber in numerous state and federal lawsuits.

Uber has reached a preliminary settlement with the National Federation of the Blind, which sued the company for discriminating against passengers with service animals. There were reports of drivers refusing to pick up passengers and one incident where a driver locked a service animal in the trunk. As part of the class action settlement, Uber will require drivers to take service animals and suspend drivers who refuse.

An Uber passenger has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Uber and its CEO Travis Kalanick for price fixing. Conservationist Spencer Meyer claims Uber colluded with drivers to raise prices, and is seeking class action status. [MORE]