GUNN v. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC. et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part Defendants' 19 Motion to Compel Arbitration, Strike Class Allegations and Dismiss the Action. See Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark J. Dinsmore on 1/27/2017. (SWM)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF INDIANA
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC.,
ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL ARBITRATION
This matter is before the Court on Defendants’ Motion to Compel Arbitration, Strike
Class Allegations and Dismiss the Action. [Dkt. 19.] The Court GRANTS IN PART and
DENIES IN PART Defendants’ Motion. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff’s claims
against Defendant Uber Technologies, Inc. (“Uber”) must be submitted to arbitration; pending
arbitration, Plaintiff’s claims against Uber are stayed.
Plaintiff, Angela Gunn, is an Indiana resident who worked as an Uber driver. At the heart
of this case is Plaintiff’s contention that Uber misclassifies its drivers as independent contractors
rather than employees resulting in the violation of wage payment laws. Plaintiff brings this
diversity action on behalf of herself and all other similarly situated persons working as drivers in
this district for Defendant Uber Technologies, Inc.
Uber is a technology company that offers a smartphone application to connect riders
looking for transportation to drivers. Defendant Travis Kalanick is the CEO of Uber. Customers
use their smartphones to request rides through the Uber app. The request is routed to the locally-
available Uber drivers, who use their own vehicles to pick-up and transport customers. The
customer pays through the Uber app and the driver is paid directly by Uber for a portion of the
fare collected from the customer.
Prior to using Uber’s software to generate leads for riders, potential drivers must enter
into the Raiser Software Sublicense & Online Services Agreement (the “Agreement”). 1 To enter
the Agreement, Plaintiff had to sign into the Uber app and click the appropriate hyperlink. The
Agreement is then presented on the screen and can be reviewed in its entirety by scrolling. There
is no time limitation to review the Agreement. To advance past the “Agreement” screen, the
driver must first click “YES, I AGREE” and then click “CONFIRM.” After confirming her
acceptance of the Agreement, it is automatically transmitted to Plaintiff’s personal Driver Portal,
where she could review it or print it at any time.
The Agreement contains an Arbitration Provision, which provides, in relevant part:
Except as it otherwise provides, this Arbitration Provision is intended to
apply to the resolution of disputes that otherwise would be resolved in a
court of law or before a forum other than arbitration. This Arbitration
Provision requires all such disputes to be resolved only by an arbitrator
through final and binding arbitration on an individual basis only and not by
way of court or jury trial, or by way of class, collective, or representative
Such disputes include without limitation disputes arising out of or relating to
interpretation or application of this Arbitration Provision, including the
enforceability, revocability or validity of the Arbitration Provision or any portion
of the Arbitration Provision. All such matters shall be decided by an Arbitrator
and not by a court or judge.
Except as it otherwise provides, this Arbitration Provision also applies, without
limitation, to disputes arising out of or related to this Agreement and disputes
arising out of or related to your relationship with [Uber/Raiser], including
termination of the relationship.
“Raiser” is Raiser LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Uber Technologies.
[Dkt. 20-1 at 25 (emphasis in original).] 2
Once a driver accepts the Agreement, she may still opt out of the Arbitration
Provision. The Agreement provides:
Arbitration is not a mandatory condition of your contractual relationship with the
Company. If you do not want to be subject to this Arbitration Provision, you may
opt out of this Arbitration Provision by notifying the Company in writing of your
desire to opt out of this Arbitration Provision, either by (1) sending, within 30
days of the date this Agreement is executed by you, electronic mail to
email@example.com, stating your name and intent to opt out of the Arbitration
Provision or (2) by sending a letter by U.S. Mail, or by any nationally recognized
delivery service (e.g. UPS, Federal Express, etc.) or by hand delivery . . .
[Dkt. 20-1 at 28.]
Plaintiff did not opt out of the Arbitration Provision. Uber now moves to compel the
arbitration of Plaintiff’s claims. 3
Plaintiff does not dispute that she accepted the Agreement and did not opt out of the
Arbitration Provision. Rather, she argues the Federal Arbitration Act does not apply, the
Arbitration Provision is void as unconscionable, and that the Agreement’s prohibition on
collective arbitration is invalid because it violates the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”).
The Court will address each argument in turn below.
1. Federal Arbitration Act
The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., states that, as a matter of
federal law, arbitration agreements “shall be valid, irrevocable, and enforceable, save upon such
Although the Arbitration Provision begins on page 11 of the Agreement, potential drivers are advised of the
Provision and their ability to opt-out at the bottom of page one in a paragraph printed in bold-faced, ALL CAPS.
3 Similar cases between Uber and its drivers have been filed in numerous courts across the country. Significantly,
every federal district court with the exception of one in the Northern District of California has granted Defendants’
motions to compel arbitration. The rogue California district court recently was reversed by the Ninth Circuit in
Mohamed v. Uber Technologies, Inc., 2016 WL 4651409 (9th Cir. 2016).
grounds as exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” 9 U.S.C. § 2. The Act
further requires courts to stay or dismiss proceedings and to compel arbitration if an issue in
controversy is covered by a valid arbitration agreement. 9 U.S.C. §§ 3, 4. To compel arbitration
under the FAA, this Court must find (1) that a written arbitration agreement exists between the
parties; (2) that there is a dispute among the parties within the scope of the arbitration agreement;
and (3) that one of the parties is refusing to comply with the arbitration agreement by declining
to participate in arbitration. See Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. Watts Indus., Inc., 417 F.3d 682, 690 (7th
Cir. 2005). In interpreting the breadth and viability of an arbitration provision, “as with any other
contract, the parties' intentions control, but those intentions are generously construed as to issues
of arbitrability.” Mitsubishi Motors Corp. v. Soler Chrysler–Plymouth, Inc., 473 U.S. 614, 626
(1985). But, even if an arbitration agreement exists, “[l]ike other contracts, however, [arbitration
agreements] may be invalidated by generally applicable contract defenses, such as fraud, duress,
or unconscionability.” Rent–A–Center, West, Inc. v. Jackson, 561 U.S. 63, 68 (2010) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
The Arbitration Provision at issue here states that it is governed by the FAA. [Dkt. 20-1
at 25.] Yet Plaintiff argues the FAA does not apply because Plaintiff had no “meaningful
opportunity to negotiate any terms or conditions of the arbitration clause Defendants have
paraded out, which makes the arbitration provisions unconscionable.” [Dkt. 26 at 4.] Here,
Plaintiff erroneously weaves an unconscionability argument (addressed below with regard to the
Arbitration Provision itself) into an argument as to whether the FAA even applies to the
The FAA governs arbitration agreements in contracts affecting interstate commerce. See
Wisconsin v. Ho-Chunk Nation, 512 F.3d 921, 936 (7th Cir. 2008). Wilson makes no argument
that the Agreement with Uber does not affect interstate commerce. To the extent Wilson believes
otherwise, this argument is now waived. See Judge v. Quinn, 612 F.3d 537, 557 (7th Cir. 2010)
(“perfunctory and undeveloped arguments, and arguments that are unsupported by pertinent
authority, are waived.”) The parties expressly adopted the FAA to govern the Arbitration
Provision of their Agreement and Plaintiff “has no way around this language.” Renard v.
Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., 778 F.3d 563, 566 (7th Cir. 2015). The Court finds that
Defendants’ motion is properly considered under the FAA.
2. Arbitration Provision
Plaintiff next argues the Arbitration Provision itself is unenforceable because the
Delegation Clause – the agreement to arbitrate gateway questions such as arbitrability – is
invalid. A court should not assume that parties have agreed to arbitrate these threshold issues
unless there is “clear and unmistakable” evidence that they have so agreed. First Options of
Chicago, Inc. v. Kaplan, 514 U.S. 938, 944 (1995). In the alternative, Plaintiff argues the
Arbitration Provision is unconscionable and should not be enforced.
The Delegation Clause at issue in the Agreement provides that “disputes arising out of or
relating to interpretation or application of this Arbitration Provision, including the
enforceability, revocability or validity of the Arbitration Provision or any portion of the
Arbitration Provision . . . shall be decided by an Arbitrator and not by a court or judge.” [Dkt.
20-1 at 25 (emphasis added).] The Court finds this to be “clear and unmistakable” evidence that
Plaintiff agreed to submit challenges to the Arbitration Provision itself to arbitration.
Plaintiff asserts that because the Delegation Clause is “plainly inconsistent” with other
provisions of the Agreement that imply disputes will be litigated in court, it is unenforceable.
Having found “clear and unmistakable” evidence the parties delegated the question of
arbitrability to the arbitrator, this and Plaintiff’s remaining arguments concerning the
enforceability of the Arbitration Provision must be resolved by the arbitrator.
3. National Labor Relations Act
Finally, Plaintiff asserts the Arbitration Provision’s prohibition on collective or class
arbitration is invalid because it violates Sections 7 and 8 of the National Labor Relations Act
(“NLRA”). In support of this proposition, Plaintiff cites Lewis v. Epic Systems, wherein the
Seventh Circuit held that a class action waiver within an arbitration provision was unenforceable
because it interfered with employees’ Section 7 right to engage in concerted activity. 823 F.3d
1147 (7th Cir. 2016). In Lewis, the employer sent to its employees via email an arbitration
agreement mandating that wage and hour claims could only be brought through individual
arbitration and that employees waived the right to collective action for such claims. Employees
were deemed to have accepted the agreement if they continued working. In other words,
employees had no option to decline or “opt-out” of the agreement if they wanted to keep their
jobs. Lewis, 823 F.3d at 1151.
Plaintiff argues the Court should find the Arbitration Provision in this case to be
unenforceable based upon Lewis. However, the Seventh Circuit expressly declined in Lewis to
decide the effect of an opt-out clause, such as the one in this case, on the enforceability of a class
action waiver. The Court stated, “[I]n our case, it is undisputed that assent to Epic’s arbitration
provision was a condition of continued employment. A contract that limits Section 7 rights that is
agreed to as a condition of continued employment qualifies as ‘interfer[ing] with’ or
‘restrain[ing] . . . employees in the exercise’ of those rights.” Id. at 1155. Moreover, as noted by
the Northern District of Illinois in Lee v. Uber, the arbitration provision in Lewis did not contain
a delegation clause, so the threshold issue of arbitrability was one for the court, rather than the
arbitrator. In this case, the parties entered into a valid agreement to delegate to the arbitrator
questions of arbitrability. Accordingly, the question of the enforceability of the collective action
waiver must be resolved by the arbitrator.
Based on the foregoing, Defendants’ Motion to Compel Arbitration, Strike Class
Allegations and Dismiss the Action [Dkt. 19] is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
The motion to compel individual arbitration is granted and this matter is STAYED as to Uber
only pending resolution of the arbitration proceeding. The motion to dismiss as to Uber [Dkt. 19]
is denied, as the Seventh Circuit has held repeatedly, “the proper course of action when a party
seeks to invoke an arbitration clause is to stay the proceedings rather than to dismiss outright.”
Halim v. Great Gatsby's Auction Gallery, Inc., 516 F.3d 557, 561 (7th Cir. 2008). The parties are
directed to notify the Court within 14 days of the issuance of any arbitration award or other
action that terminates the arbitration proceedings. In light of this Order, the motion to strike
class allegations contained within Dkt. 19 is DENIED AS MOOT
Additionally, on January 17, 2017, Plaintiff filed a surreply to this Motion. [Dkt. 36.]
Although this surreply was filed without leave of court, the Court reviewed it and took the
arguments into consideration for this Order. Therefore, Defendants’ Motion to Strike the surreply
[Dkt. 37] is DENIED AS MOOT.
Defendants (Uber and Kalanick) filed this Motion jointly; however, Defendants presented
no evidence that Kalanick is a party to the Arbitration Agreement and Kalanick previously filed
a Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction. [Dkt. 17.] To the extent Defendants
believe Plaintiff should be compelled to arbitrate her claims against Kalanick as well, the Court
ORDERS Defendants to show cause on or before February 3, 2017 as to the basis for such
belief. If Defendants respond to this order to show cause, Plaintiffs shall have seven days
following Defendants’ response to file a reply.
Dated: 27 JAN 2017
Service will be made electronically
on all ECF-registered counsel of record via
email generated by the court’s ECF system.
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