The 10 Biggest Uber Lawsuits in Company History

It isn’t uncommon for large corporations to become caught up in one controversy or another. To an extent, that is because of the scale of their operations, thus increasing the chances of them becoming involved in something problematic. That said, some large corporations are more familiar with controversies than others. This can be seen in Uber’s experiences in the 2010s, which were an eventful time for the ride-sharing company.

Here are ten of the biggest Uber lawsuits ever launched:

10. The Misuse of God View

Uber is an excellent example of a tech startup made possible by modern technologies. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it has run into privacy issues. USA Today reported that it had to settle concern over a tool called God View by paying $20,000 in 2016.

Fined a Pittance Over Failure to Disclose

The gist is that God View enabled Uber employees to track the locations of drivers and riders without their consent in real-time. Everything seems to have started when a BuzzFeed reporter filed a complaint with the New York government when an Uber executive told her he had been tracking her while she was catching a ride to the company’s regional headquarters.

Subsequently, other people started speaking up because they were concerned about being monitored this way. Eventually, Uber settled the matter by paying $20,000. Critically, this was for its failure to disclose a leak of information collected using God View rather than the existence of God View itself. That said, it did claim that it had restricted the number of people capable of accessing the tool while limiting its use for business purposes.

9. Rider Suing Over Paralysis

Recently, CBS and other sources reported a man named Will Good suing Uber for $63 million. He used to be a chef working in a restaurant. Unfortunately, he was heading home when his Uber driver plowed into a parked vehicle. As a result, Will is now paralyzed because of a broken neck. He is no longer capable of moving his legs. Meanwhile, he struggles to do anything with his arms, so much so that even something as trivial as scratching his ear has become challenging.

Claims of Insufficient Screening and Supervision

Good’s lawsuit claims that Uber didn’t put enough effort into screening and supervision. As it turned out, his Uber driver had a long history of driving issues, so much so that he was once required to undergo driver retraining. Good believes that the man should’ve never been allowed to work as a Uber driver in the first place. As for Uber, its position is that it is not responsible for its drivers because they are freelancers rather than employees. Only time will tell what will come of this.

8. Paying Off the Family After a Tragic Self-Driving Vehicle Accident

Uber has a strong interest in self-driving vehicles. As a result, it is involved in testing them, which led to the tragic death of a 49-year-old woman named Elaine Herzberg in 2018. The incident had the dubious distinction of being the first time a pedestrian was killed by a self-driving vehicle, though it wasn’t the first time a person was killed by a self-driving vehicle. In any case, Reuters reported that Uber settled the case by paying off the woman’s family, thus avoiding a legal battle that would be damaging to its image.

Fully Self-Driving Vehicles Still Seem Far-Off

The whole thing was a reminder that fully self-driving vehicles are still far-off in the future. No one can predict the future with certainty. However, some experts believe fully self-driving vehicles are still more than a decade away. It seems safe to say that ride-sharing companies will hit the news when that happens because the widespread adoption of such technology will have immense consequences for their business models.

7. Punished By California Over Refusal to Hand Over Sexual Assault Information

California’s Public Utilities Commission received $9 million in payment from Uber in late December 2021. BBC stated this was a much-reduced number from the original fine of $59 million, which happened because the two sides reached a mutually acceptable compromise through negotiation. The initial conflict started because Uber refused to hand over information regarding sexual assault and harassment cases involving its drivers. It claimed that this would violate people’s privacy. California was less than impressed because it considered the claim a bad attempt at buying time.

The Payment Will Fund Rider Safety Measures

Uber has since agreed to hand over the requested information. Furthermore, it has been doing so regularly ever since. Still, this isn’t a total surrender on its part, seeing as it will use unique identifiers rather than actual names for people. As for the $9 million, California’s Public Utilities Commission stated it would be used for two things. One was combating violence in the relevant industry, while the other was helping people subjected to violence and sexual violence.

6. Long Fight Over Driver Classification

There is a good chance that interested individuals have heard about Uber’s driver classification issues at some point. After all, The Verge says people filed the first lawsuit in 2013 before settling in 2019, meaning it was reported on and off by the news for more than six years. Furthermore, Uber’s driver classification issues remain unresolved, so it isn’t uncommon for various parties to still bring them up.

For those who could use a refresher, Uber classifies its drivers as freelancers rather than employees. That is important because it doesn’t need to offer benefits to the former but would need to do so for the latter. As such, driver classification has huge financial consequences for the ride-sharing company, thus explaining its willingness to fight tooth and nail over it. Similarly, there is much at stake for the drivers themselves. Benefits cover everything from health insurance to paid sick time, so it isn’t hard to see why this mattered to them and continues to matter to them.

A Sharp Reversal From 2016

Regardless, the lawsuit over Uber’s driver classification issues took several dramatic turns. It was close to being settled for as much as $100 million in 2016. At that point, the sum was considered low, so much so that a federal judge rejected the proposal over this. Then, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that strengthened companies’ ability to force their employees to seek arbitration rather than launch class action lawsuits.

Something that resulted in numerous plaintiffs being removed from the case. In the end, Uber agreed to pay the drivers still involved in the class action lawsuit 37 cents per mile while making various changes to how it handles driver deactivation. Thanks to this, it got off much more lightly than if everything had gone through in 2016 rather than in 2019.

5. Forced to Stop Making Exaggerated Claims

The Drum says Uber agreed to pay $28.5 million to settle a couple of lawsuits about its choice of language when describing its safety practices in 2016. Essentially, the plaintiffs argued that it was deceptive by making less than 100 percent truthful claims about its safety practices. For instance, Uber used “best in class” and similar-sounding descriptors even though its operations couldn’t live up to those claims. Funny enough, the settlement worked out to about 82 cents per rider once the lawyer’s fees had been deducted from the sum.

Concerns the Advertising and Only the Advertising

The settlement required Uber to change the words used for its advertising. However, it didn’t do anything about the company’s safety practices because the latter was never their subject of concern. Still, interested individuals might be familiar with the consequences of this settlement. It is why the company started calling its Safe Ride Fees by the new name of Booking Fees, even though they still cover safety and regulatory costs.

4. Sued Over Stolen Confidential Files

At one point, Uber was locked in a legal battle with Waymo. The latter claimed that an ex-employee named Anthony Levandowski stole thousands of confidential files from its systems before his departure. Subsequently, he founded a self-driving vehicle startup, which made its way under the Uber umbrella through a buyout. There seems to have been real substance to the claim. Levandowski winded up being booted before being sentenced to 18 months in prison. Moreover, Waymo received Uber stock worth around $245 million at the time, which was less than it had asked for but still substantial by any standard.

The Two Companies Are Now On Better Terms

It is interesting to note that the two companies now seem to be on better terms. In 2022, CNN stated their announcement of a new strategic partnership in which Uber would use Waymo’s self-driving trucks for Uber Freight. The latter isn’t as well-known as the ride-sharing company’s primary service. Those who are curious should know that it serves as a bridge between people with trucks and businesses looking to move things.

3. $148 Million For Covering Up a Data Breach

Apparently, 2016 was just a very bad year for Uber. It saw the ride-sharing company hit by hackers, who made off with the information of 57 million individuals. A responsible company would have come clean on the matter before working to make amends to those who had been wronged. Instead, Uber paid the hackers $100,000 to get them to delete the data while staying silent about what had happened.

The Chief Security Officer Was Ousted Over the Incident

In the end, NPR reported that the ride-sharing company had to pay $148 million over the data breach. Moreover, it fired its Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, who defended the decision as paying a bounty for a discovered bug rather than a random for stolen information. It seems safe to say that the U.S. authorities weren’t impressed with his line of thinking, as shown by the flurry of lawsuits that produced this outcome.

2. Using Greyball to Evade European Authorities

Uber has a tool called Greyball. This is a dummy version of its app, which could be used to show fake results to the users. It is capable of doing this to specific individuals. Similarly, it can do something similar to entire regions. The ride-sharing company claimed Greyball was meant to protect its people from angry taxi drivers. However, it was widely believed that Uber used Greyball to foil sting operations by the authorities. Indeed, The Guardian says it is one of the reasons the City of London suspended the ride-sharing company’s license in 2017.

Confirmation Came Out in Recent Times

The exact use of Greyball wasn’t 100 percent clear when its existence leaked out. Interested individuals should know The Guardian managed to get its hands on confidential files in 2022, revealing that it did see a use for foiling sting operations by the authorities in several countries. Even worse, this had the approval of senior leadership, meaning it was by no means a rogue action.

1. The Long Battle Over Uber’s Operations in France

Uber hasn’t had the smoothest time expanding its presence in France. The root of the issue in that country is much the same as in other places. In short, French taxi drivers are licensed, which costs them time and money. In contrast, Uber drivers were not at first. Despite this, the two competed for more or less the same segment of consumers, thus resulting in various clashes. Interested individuals can find reports of encounters turning violent. Similarly, Insider and other sources have reported on the time France fined Uber executives 800,000 Euroes over a service called UberPop that used unlicensed drivers.

Continuing Investigations

Over time, Uber’s position in France has solidified to some extent. To an extent, this is because of political support from powerful figures, which include Emmanuel Macron. Even so, it is clear that there are still unsettled matters. For instance, there are ongoing efforts to find out how Uber managed to carve out a place in the French marketplace for itself. This has reached as high as the country’s parliament, which should make it clear how seriously people are still taking this issue.

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