Tailoring Class Actions to the On-Demand Economy

52 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2016 Last revised: 9 Feb 2018

See all articles by Joseph Seiner

Joseph Seiner

University of South Carolina School of Law

Date Written: March 11, 2016

Abstract

In O’Connor v. Uber, 2015 WL 5138097 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 1, 2015), 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 largely floundered 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 paper seeks to fill that void in the scholarship.

Navigating the statutes, case law, and procedural rules, this Essay proposes a workable five-part framework for analyzing systemic claims brought in the technology sector. This paper sets forth a model for the courts and litigants to follow when evaluating the proper scope of these cases. The Essay seeks to spark a dialogue on this important — yet unexplored — area of the law.

Keywords: Uber, class actions, systemic litigation, Wal-Mart, employee, independent contractor, on-demand economy, worker classification

Suggested Citation

Seiner, Joseph A., Tailoring Class Actions to the On-Demand Economy (March 11, 2016). 77 Ohio State L.J. 21 (2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2746658

Joseph A. Seiner (Contact Author)

University of South Carolina School of Law ( email )

1525 Senate St., Rm. 339
Columbia, SC 29208
United States
(803) 777-5569 (Phone)
(803) 777-2368 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.sc.edu/faculty/seiner/

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