Uber’s Worst Nightmare

Originally published May 18, 2016 (here)

Diana Kapp | Photo: Justin Kaneps

San Francisco Magazine

Shannon Liss-Riordan just put a $100 million dent in the sharing economy giant. She’s out for a lot more than that.

Liss-Riordan is never one to relent unless forced. Says her partner Lichten, admiringly, “She’s like a pit bull with a Chihuahua in her mouth.” Among the concessions Uber had to make to reach the April settlement was forgoing its practice of firing drivers without cause. “That’s a pretty big deal,” says Santa Clara University law professor Goldman. What’s more, drivers will no longer be deactivated for a low rate of pickups, will receive a warning before losing their job, and can contest a termination before a panel of their peers. An even bigger deal, Liss-Riordan says, was convincing the judges in both her Uber and Lyft cases to deny summary judgment.

What this means is that companies will not be able to do away with lawsuits of this nature quickly and painlessly. “They were saying that any company that finds itself with a lawsuit for misclassification can find itself in front of a jury. And that’s big,” she says. “It’s a big price to put an end to the case, and it will continue to give companies pause before they play fast and loose with these rules.”