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New Uber driver contract won’t affect drivers in class action

A class-action lawsuit against Uber could potentially include more than 100,000 drivers.

A class-action lawsuit against Uber could potentially include more than 100,000 drivers.

(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Uber drivers covered by a class action lawsuit against the San Francisco company will not be affected by a new Uber driver agreement issued last week, a federal judge ruled on Thursday. The new driver agreement contains a clause that prohibits drivers from participating in current and future class actions.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen also ordered the on-demand transportation company to stop communicating with drivers covered by the class-action lawsuit without consulting a lawyer for the drivers or getting the court’s consent.

The order came less than a week after Uber sent a new agreement to its drivers which, upon signing, would prohibit them from participating in or recovering relief under any current or future class-action lawsuits against the company, unless they opted out of that specific provision.

An Uber spokesman told the Los Angeles Times last week that the company would not apply the new arbitration provisions to any drivers covered by the class action, a point it reiterated in court.

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Judge Chen’s order will make sure Uber stays true to its word.

Uber’s lawyer, Theodore Boutrous, said the new agreement was sent out to address problems the court had identified in its past driver agreements. “It fixes those things,” he said.

The lawyer representing Uber drivers, Shannon Liss-Riordan, said in a court filing that the agreement was a clear attempt at limiting the size of the class.

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Uber currently faces a high-profile class-action lawsuit in California over worker misclassification. The size of the class could exceed 100,000 drivers. If it loses, it could be on the hook for paying for driver expenses, payroll taxes, workers’ compensation and other benefits reserved for employees.

A jury trial is scheduled to begin June 20, 2016.

Twitter: @traceylien

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