2014

High-tech car service Uber faces more accusations Lawsuit alleges labor law violations

BOSTON, Feb. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A class-action lawsuit filed in US District Court last week alleges car service Uber Technologies Inc. is violating state law prohibiting employers from keeping tips earned by employees.

The suit, filed by a driver for Uber, is another strike against the upstart high-tech car service that has prompted legal and regulatory crackdowns in other cities.

"Uber's practice of keeping a large portion of the drivers' tips is both deceptive to the customers, who expect that the drivers get to keep the gratuities that they have given them, and blatantly in violation of Massachusetts law," said Hillary Schwab of Lichten & Liss-Riordan, P.C., one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.

The suit comes on the heels of similar action taken by drivers in Chicago and regulations for smartphone applications in the car service industry recently proposed by the International Association of Transportation Regulators. Those proposals, released in November, would curtail the use of GPS devices as a substitute for a taxi meter, prohibit drivers without proper licensing from offering rides for pay, and bar car services from charging extra during hours of peak demand. IATR said its intention was to "bring rogue applications into compliance." The proposals would have to be adopted by local state and city regulators. New York City, meanwhile, has drafted even more stringent regulations.

Boston fleet owners have said that if smart phone applications in the car service industry are to become standard there still must be uniform rules regarding their use.

In the most recent case, a driver for Uber, David Lavitman, of Milton, alleges Uber kept his tips. He said customers are regularly assessed a 20 percent gratuity but that the company retains as much as half that amount. Lavitman's suit is seeking class action status and says more than 40 drivers in Massachusetts who served customers beginning Dec. 10, 2012 could join the class. Damages could exceed $5 million, according to statements by the company.

Uber is based in San Francisco.

SOURCE DBMediaStrategies Inc.



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