A Haverhill man who drives for Uber has filed what he hopes will become a class-action suit to force Uber to treat its Massachusetts drivers as employees - which means ensuring they get paid at least the state minimum wage and overtime and that they get reimbursed for their car and phone expenses.
In a federal suit filed yesterday, John Capriole says Uber's detailed - and arbitrary - conditions for how Capriole and other drivers must work, coupled with the fact that Capriole does not run an independent livery service means he's no independent contractor, but an employee as defined by Massachusetts law.
Capriole, who says he has driven for Uber since 2016, says there have been times he has made less than the state minimum wage of $12 an hour, and that he has worked more than 40 hours a week for Uber on several occasions without being paid overtime. In addition, Uber sometimes cuts what drivers are paid through promotional offers without consulting the drivers.
Capriole is seeking a judge's declaration that he and other Uber drivers in Massachusetts are, in fact, employees, that they be paid according to state wage laws and reimbursed for both expenses and time spent going to and from Uber rides. He adds he's not just in it for the money:
The injunction that Plaintiff seeks is in the nature of a public injunction and is not solely for the benefit of himself and other Uber drivers. Instead, ordering Uber to comply with Massachusetts law is in the public interest because Uber’s violation of the law diminishes labor standards more generally in the Massachusetts economy and particularly in the transportation industry. Complying competitors are put at a disadvantage when companies such as Uber flout the law by misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. Public funds are also impacted by these violations because the state incurs costs in supporting and providing services
to employees who are not properly paid and do not even receive minimum wage.
Capriole's attornery is Shannon Liss-Riordan of Boston, who has sued Uber on the independent-contractor issue before - and who is currently running against Ed Markey for Senate in the 2020 elections.