Airbnb Inc. recently announced it would no longer force its employees who filed sexual harassment lawsuits to settle their claims in private arbitration. The notice came only days after Google and Facebook made similar announcements concerning policy changes about sexual harassment, including ending forced arbitration for such claims. Google’s announcement followed a 20,000 employee walkout protesting the company’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations. As previously discussed on the blog, in May of this year, Uber and Lyft became two of the first gig companies to waive mandatory arbitration and remove the confidentiality requirement for sexual assault and harassment victims (for passenger, driver and employee claims).
It was just a matter of time. After the Supreme Court cleared the way for businesses to use class waivers with their employees and contractors with the Epic Systems ruling this past May, many observers expected that the decision would come back to haunt a class of Uber drivers who wanted to litigate a class action misclassification case against the ride-sharing company in court. Earlier today, sure enough, the other shoe dropped.
When the Supreme Court decided this May that businesses were permitted to enter into class waiver agreements with employees and contractors, forcing them into individual arbitration proceedings over workplace disputes rather than having to be subjected to bloated and costly class action litigation, we called it a “monumental” decision that “saved employment arbitration as we know it.” For businesses in the gig world, we now have a definitive example of just how valuable the SCOTUS’s new standard can be when it comes to misclassification cases.
Just last month, Uber announced that it would no longer require its passengers, drivers, or employees to arbitrate their individual claims of sexual assault and sexual harassment, allowing such claims to proceed in court. Uber’s Chief Legal Officer Tony West stated in a blog post: “We have learned it’s important to give sexual assault and harassment survivors control of how they pursue their claims. So moving forward, survivors will be free to choose to resolve their individual claims in the venue they prefer: In a mediation where they can choose confidentiality; in arbitration, where they can choose to maintain their privacy while pursuing their case; or in open court.” Uber will also no longer require those who settle sexual assault or harassment claims to sign non-disclosure agreements. Hours after Uber’s announcement, Lyft announced that it, too, would waive mandatory arbitration and remove the confidentiality requirement for sexual assault and harassment victims.
A delivery driver for gig economy company DoorDash has been ordered by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to take his misclassification case to a private arbitrator instead of court pursuant to a valid arbitration agreement he entered into. The April 25 decision is a solid win for gig employers and could provide a template for how other similar businesses should structure their own arbitration agreements.
How important is your businesses’ terms of service (TOS) agreement, usually presented to users of your business model through a process requiring them to click “I agree” before they can access your platform?
A few days ago, Uber won a significant battle when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s decision and upheld the company’s arbitration agreements. No doubt about it, this is a big win. You might remember a few weeks ago when I wrote a post entitled, “Will Uber Actually Be Happy It’s $100M Settlement Fell Apart?” If I had a chance to edit that post now, I’d replace the six paragraphs of analysis with a one-word answer:
There’s a great scene in the Naked Gun movie where Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) is trying to clear a crowd forming around a crime scene, except that the crime scene happens to be a fireworks factory on fire. While a massive pyrotechnic fireworks show is going on behind him, Drebin vainly yells to the gathering crowd, “Move along! Nothing to see here! Please disburse! Nothing to see here!”
The big news late yesterday was that the federal court judge overseeing the Uber class action litigation rejected the $100M settlement for being “not fair, adequate, and reasonable.” We wrote a detailed description of the decision on our website, and you can read it here.
I just wrote a detailed article about a recent federal court decision that upheld the validity of an employer’s class action waiver, forcing a disgruntled worker into arbitrating his case individually instead of using the court system to launch a large-scale class action. Typically, this kind of decision would not be particularly significant; after all, many businesses employ class waivers, and the overwhelming number of federal courts examining them have approved their use. But this case is noteworthy for a few reasons, one of which being that the decision involves the economy (Bekele v. Lyft, Inc.). You can check out the full article on our website, but here’s the quick summary for those of you in a hurry.