The legal theories that are being lobbed at Uber in wage-hour lawsuits across the country show no signs of letting up. Earlier this year, a group of certified limousine drivers in Eastern Pennsylvania who provide services through Uber’s “luxury” UberBLACK platform filed a FLSA suit for unpaid wages, including a claim that they were owed wages for on-call time while they were logged into the Uber app. Last week, in a colorful opinion that references Mozart’s “Magic Flute” and Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” a federal judge green-lighted plaintiffs’ theory and ordered “expedited discovery” on the issue of compensability of the plaintiffs’ on-call time.
Importantly, this opinion does not reach the merits of the plaintiffs’ claims. Instead, the court concluded that the allegations that the plaintiffs “worked” while on-call, were required to wear certain business attire, and were subject to suspension and termination if they refused a fare were sufficient at the pleading stage to allow the plaintiffs to proceed with their claim. At a minimum, this opinion joins numerous others and signals a willingness to at least entertain the theory that a person providing services via an app or other on-demand economy device might be an “employee” for certain legal purposes.