An important development: Singh v. Uber (3rd Cir 09/11/2019) [PDF]
Singh brought a putative class action in state court alleging that Uber misclassified its drivers as independent contractors as opposed to employees. Uber removed the case to federal court and moved to compel arbitration. Singh opposed the motion, arguing that the court did not have the authority to compel arbitration under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The trial court ordered arbitration. The 3rd Circuit remanded.
FAA Section 1 provides that the FAA does not apply to
“contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.”
New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, 139 S. Ct. 532 (2019) held that ''contracts of employment" includes any contract for the performance of work by workers, so the issue in this case becomes whether Singh was "engaged in … interstate commerce."
The 3rd Circuit rejected Uber's argument that the Section 1 exclusion applies only to workers who transport goods, and not to those who transport passengers, saying "§ 1 is not limited to transportation workers who transport goods, but may also apply to those who transport passengers, so long as they are engaged in interstate commerce or in work so closely related thereto as to be in practical effect part of it."
The 3rd Circuit remanded for the trial court to allow discovery on the issue of whether the class of transportation workers to which Singh belongs are engaged in interstate commerce or sufficiently related work.