Uber's Dilemma: How the ADA May End the On-Demand Economy

41 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2016 Last revised: 2 Oct 2017

Date Written: April 19, 2016


This article is the first to point out that a few relatively low-profile lawsuits involving Uber’s liability under the ADA could have an outcome-determinative effect on O’Connor v. Uber Technologies, Inc., the blockbuster employment misclassification case brought against the startup by its own drivers. Because both types of lawsuits hinge on the role that drivers play within Uber’s business model, a ruling in favor of ADA liability which compelled Uber to exert additional control over its drivers would also, in turn, jeopardize the drivers' legal status as independent contractors. Such an outcome would be catastrophic to Uber’s core business model, costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars. And because Uber is but one of hundreds of Silicon Valley startups to have adopted a similar business model, a misclassification ruling against the tech giant could set in motion a domino effect that impacts scores of companies throughout the “on-demand” economy. Hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars may hang in the balance of a few ADA cases. So, too, may the rights of some 57 million Americans with disabilities, for whom victory could come to represent a major civil rights milestone.

Keywords: on-demand, sharing, economy, new, public accommodations, discrimination, ada, americans, disabilities, disability, title III, uber, lyft, sidecar, bridj, tnc, transportation, network, startup

Suggested Citation

Casey, Bryan, Uber's Dilemma: How the ADA May End the On-Demand Economy (April 19, 2016). University of Massachusetts Law Review, Vol. 12, Spring 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2766857 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2766857

Bryan Casey (Contact Author)

Stanford Law School ( email )

559 Nathan Abbott Way
Stanford, CA 94305-8610
United States

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