Plaintiff Michael Hood claimed last year in a proposed class action suit that he has been misclassified as an independent contractor rather than an employee, and as such has consistently been paid well below minimum wage. At one point in 2015, Hood alleges he made less than $2 per hour after expenses, well below North Carolina’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Hood’s case is one of more than a dozen such ‘wage theft’ lawsuits currently pending against Uber which have challenged the independent contractor status of the company’s drivers. Different complaints filed against other so-called “gig economy” startups are currently pending as well.

Most other cases have settled or haven’t progressed far enough. If Hood’s case becomes a landmark and Uber is defeated in court, the already troubled company could stand to owe hundreds of millions in back pay, among other possible penalties. However, it could take years for the litigation to resolve.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles’ ruling allowed Hood’s lawsuit to continue as a variant of a class action called a conditional collective action. Unlike regular class action lawsuits, where all possible plaintiffs join a case automatically unless they specifically choose to opt out, collective actions are opt in and are bound by federal law.

The ruling could open the floodgates for potential class members, and Hood v. Uber could become one of the largest labor lawsuits ever filed against Uber.

Source: Ars Technica

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