More workers’ rights woes for Uber as bid to dismiss lawsuit denied by Massachusetts judge

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A Massachusetts judge has denied ride-sharing firms Uber and Lyft’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit by the state's Attorney General challenging Uber's classification of drivers as independent contractors instead of employees.

Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Salinger made the decision to allow Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to pursue her claims against Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc in court.

Judge Salinger said in his final decision: “Uber and Lyft pay people to use their own vehicles to transport passengers. The Attorney General claims that both companies misclassify their drivers as independent contractors, rather than as employees, and do not pay or provide all wages and related benefits required by State Law.

”She seeks a judgement declaring that Uber and Lyft drivers are employees, and an injunction requiring the companies to treat their Massachusetts drivers as employees, for the purpose of applying wage-related status.”

Salinger went on to add: “Uber and Lyft have moved to dismiss this action. They argue that the Attorney General may not seek a declaratory judgement because the complaint does not adequately allege that any drivers were denied benefits to which they would be entitled if they were employees, or that there is an actual controversy about the alleged misclassification."

He concluded: “Uber, but not Lyft, also contends that the Attorney General lacks standing to seek declaratory relief.

”The court will deny both motions to dismiss.”

Uber’s global battle with regulators and court challenges, predominantly surrounding the classification of their drivers, continues to build momentum. Recently in the UK, a final decision was made at the Supreme Court, which determined that Uber drivers were in fact entitled to be classified as employees and not independent contractors.

Uber has since announced changes to they way they classify drivers by offering minimum wage while a driver has a passenger on board. Their decision to go down this route does not sit well with many trade representatives, who are now calling for Uber to honour the court’s judgment and pay drivers the minimum wage at all times when they are logged into the Uber app seeking work.