Tailoring Class Actions to the On-Demand Economy
In O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc., a federal district court permitted a class action case to proceed on the question of whether 160,000 drivers were misclassified by their employer as independent contractors rather than employees. The case has garnered widespread interest, making headlines across the country. Yet, it represents only one of many class action cases currently pending against technology companies in the modern economy. Indeed, similar systemic claims have already been brought against Yelp, GrubHub, Handy, CrowdFlower, Amazon, and many others.
The courts have struggled in their efforts to address the proper scope of class cases brought against corporations in the on-demand economy. This is likely the result of a lack of clarity in this area as well as the unique fact patterns that often arise with technology-sector claims. Nothing has been written on this issue in the academic literature to date, and this Article seeks to fill that void in the scholarship.
Navigating the statutes, case law, and procedural rules, this Article proposes a workable, five-part framework for analyzing systemic claims brought in the technology sector and sets forth a model for the courts and litigants to follow when evaluating the proper scope of these cases. This Article seeks to spark a dialogue on this important— yet unexplored—area of the law.
Joseph Seiner, Tailoring Class Actions to the On-Demand Economy, 78 OHIO ST. L.J. 21 (2017).