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Four Tampa drivers file latest federal lawsuit against rideshare company Uber

Published Jan. 27, 2016

TAMPA — Four Hillsborough County drivers filed a federal lawsuit against Uber accusing the rideshare company of violating state and federal labor laws by classifying drivers as independent contractors instead of as employees.

The lawsuit was filed Friday by drivers Antonio Suarez, Fernando Alegria, Hillary Mitchell and Judhit Santander. The suit "challenges (Uber's) uniform policy of willfully misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors when, in fact, each such driver is and/or was an employee of (Uber)." They filed suit in Tampa's Middle District of Florida because the drivers say they live in the city and worked for Uber in the city.

The drivers allege that Uber: fails to pay the federal minimum hourly wage; fails to pay workers overtime after they've logged in 40 hours a week; and wrongly classifies drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, resulting in "negative tax implications" that cost the drivers money.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status, which would allow other drivers to join them in their legal action against Uber. The California company faces similar lawsuits in its home state, Oregon and Orlando. The California lawsuit was granted class-action status in September.

In a statement, Uber reiterated that its drivers are independent contractors and have already been classified as such under Florida law: "As the Florida's Department of Economic Opportunity's final order recently recognized, Uber's partners are independent contractors who use Uber on their own terms; they control their use of the app, deciding when and for how long they drive, and whether they drive at all. Nearly 90 percent of drivers say the main reason they use Uber is because they love being their own boss."