On May 21, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, which we previously discussed at length. That case, which upheld class action waivers in favor of individual arbitration, forces Gustavo Camilo to individually arbitrate his claim that Uber illegally charged him and other drivers a workers’ compensation fee.
Just a little more than one week after the Epic Systems decision, the trial judge in Camilo v. Uber Techs. Inc., No. 1:2017cv09508 (S.D.N.Y. May 31, 2018), found that Mr. Camilo had agreed to arbitrate any disputes with Uber Technologies, Inc. on “an individual basis only” and therefore, could not proceed with a class action alleging that Uber had unlawfully deducted wages to finance its obligation of a New York workers’ compensation program.
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission requires Uber drivers to affiliate with a dispatching base that arrange for workers’ compensation covered by the Black Car Fund, a nonprofit entity. Uber has several dispatching bases which share in supporting the Fund by paying a surcharge of 2.5 percent of customer payments. Camilo filed a state court lawsuit against Uber that the surcharge should have been funded by the customers, but that Uber was charging customers and drivers for the same fee. Camilo argued that Uber was violating state law because it did not have employee authorization to make the wage deductions.
Uber removed the lawsuit to federal district court, which agreed with Uber that Camilo had agreed to individually arbitrate his claims against Uber, and therefore, could not have the case proceed as a class action. Further, Camilo was unable to show that the agreement was unconscionable or illegal.
Camilo’s attorney spoke about the decision and expressed that his client wanted to challenge a 2.5 percent surcharge that could be costly for Uber drivers who make a decent salary from driving. Now, Camilo either arbitrates or appeals.