Uber Refusing to Label Drivers as Employees

| September 12, 2019

Facing the most serious threat yet to its business model, Uber Technologies Inc. is dusting off a legal argument it hasemployed with mixed results: that it’s a technology platform, not a transportation company.

Now, as a new California law threatens to upend its source of cheap labor, Uber is pointing to the ways in which it has attempted to diversify — into food and freight delivery, for example — to put a polish on the argument that its drivers are still independent contractors peripheral to its higher mission.

“Drivers’ work is outside the usual course of Uber’s business, which is serving as a technology platform for several different types of digital marketplaces,” Tony West, the company’s chief legal officer, said in an interview with reporters Wednesday.

Uber has generated billions of dollars from the labor of its drivers without the expense of treating them as employees. California is poised to disrupt that business model, and the ride-hailing behemoth is gearing up for another legal fight.

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