What Strippers Can Teach Uber

The on-demand industry says it’s turned our concept of work upside down. But one attorney thinks we’ve been here before — again, and again, and again.

By Lauren Smiley

Shannon Liss-Riordan rolls a small black suitcase out of the ugly federal courthouse in San Francisco. She’s smiling, just a fraction. No wonder: She just won a little victory against Uber.

Minutes earlier, in an oak-paneled courtroom 17 floors above the city’s streets, she tried to cut in — “May I? May I?” — as Uber’s attorney bobbed and weaved and attempted to persuade the judge that he should slow down the case that Liss-Riordan is working.

On-demand cheerleaders see the volley of lawsuits as not just a legal challenge, but a clash of orthodoxies: They say Liss-Riordan is a carpetbagger who doesn’t get their pioneering model (or is just trying to get rich off them). She shoots right back that they don’t get labor law — or are just gaming it for their own profits.

“They’re passing themselves off as doing great things for the world, when really they’re creating these jobs that don’t even have the basic protections that have been put in place over decades to make sure workers get some minimum standards.”

She isn’t the only attorney suing the on-demand companies — Handy and Instacart face challenges, too — but she has the most cases, and the most high-profile ones. Opponents have called her a press hound and an ambulance chaser, given that she earns 30 percent of whatever settlement she wins (that’s higher than Uber’s roughly 20 percent take of its drivers’ fares)

Despite the unexpected move from Uber, the hearing was more cordial. Afterwards, Liss-Riordan walked down the courthouse hallway — amused by the turn of events. “I was beating them,” she whispered to me, with a smile. “So they brought in another team.”

Original article posted here.