A great deal of Uber's success comes from filling a much-needed niche - cheaper, more convenient transportation without the hassle of a bus or train. However, it's probably safe to say that Uber wouldn't be where it is today if it weren't for the army of independent contractors that keep it afloat.
By employing these workers on a contract basis, Uber avoids a lot of the pitfalls other companies have to contend with. As contractors, they are responsible for their own tax deductions, their own health care, and they aren't entitled to benefits like paid sick leave.
Naturally, this state of affairs is advantageous for Uber, so it wasn't a surprise to see the company fight tooth and nail in a recent legal battle which could have forced Uber to allow their employees to pursue a class-action lawsuit against the company.
If the suit was successful, Uber drivers could have finally been considered employees, not contractors.
The previously-mentioned battle, dubbed O'Connor v. Uber, came to a close today, according to Reuters. The US' Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of Uber, meaning Uber can effectively continue to operate as usual - drivers will continue to be classified as contractors, and they must pursue individual arbitration instead of joining a class-action case.
However, though the battle is lost, the war isn't over just yet. According to one of the lawyers representing the Uber drivers in question, Shannon Liss-Riordan, the tech giant may have bitten off more than it can chew here.
"Thousands of drivers have already signed up for individual arbitration," Liss-Riordan said in a statement. "If Uber wants to resolve these disputes one by one, we are ready to do that — one by one."