updated 05:03 pm EST, Thu November 15, 2012
Suit filed against Uber on behalf of San Fran cab drivers
A San Francisco attorney announced yesterday that his firm had filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of San Francisco cab drivers charging Uber with creating unfair business competition in violation of state and local regulations. Uber is an app-based company operating in several large cities across the United States, providing a way for its users to have access to transportation services without going through local competitors. The lawsuit alleges that Uber circumvents existing California and San Francisco law, depriving "law-abiding taxicab drivers" of fares that should be theirs.
The transportation industry in California is heavily regulated, with rules covering dispatch, insurance, licensing, meter pricing, and payment processing. Uber's black car and limousine service are not registered as a taxi company, and the California Public Utilities Commission and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency have both issued cease-and-desist orders to the company.
Uber markets itself as a ride-sharing tool and uses GPS data to direct connected drivers to users that need a ride. Those drivers, Uber told Wired are already licensed to operate limos and other transportation. That explanation is insufficient for California regulators, though, who say that the drivers are effectively Uber's employees and must be inspected as such.
The CPUC announced yesterday that it was fining Uber, SideCar, and Lyft $20,000 apiece for failing to comply with California transportation law.
The class action lawsuit announced yesterday did not specify damages. Uber has also run across troubles with local governments in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., and in Massachusetts.