RAZAK et al v. UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC. et al
MEMORANDUM AND/OR OPINION. SIGNED BY HONORABLE MICHAEL M. BAYLSON ON 9/13/2017. 9/13/2017 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED.(kp, )
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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
ALI RAZAK, KENAN SABANI,
UBER TECHNOLOGIES, INC.,
September 13, 2017
MEMORANDUM RE: DEFENDANTS’ MOTION
FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY JUDGMENT
If apps be the food of the future, log on!
With apologies to Shakespeare––the opening line of Twelfth Night, “If music be the food
of love, play on” providing inspiration––app based ride-sharing is a disruptive business model in
search of a legal theory. 1 The courts that have dealt with litigation arising out of ride-sharing
technology have struggled to find an appropriate legal doctrine to fit these novel commercial
relationships. For this case, one challenge is determining what type of activity includes a driver
being “on call” for an assignment, and whether this status is “compensable.”
Plaintiffs Ali Razak (“Razak”), Kenan Sabani (“Sabani”), and Khaldoun Cherdoud
(“Cherdoud” and, together with Razak and Sabani, “Plaintiffs”) have brought individual and
representative claims against Gegen, LLC and its sole member, Uber Technologies, Inc.
The undersigned has previously written about the difficulty of applying longstanding legal
doctrine to novel technologies in the context of reproductive technology, for which courts
struggled over many years to find a hospitable and fair legal theory. See Baylson, “A Medical
Advancement in Search of a Legal Theory – Artificial Insemination by Donor and the Law.”
Semin Reprod Endocrinol 5 (1), 69-80. 2 1987, available at:
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(collectively, “Uber”) for violations of the federal minimum wage and overtime requirements
under the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 § U.S.C. 201 et seq. (“FLSA”), and parallel Pennsylvania
state wage and labor laws. Before the Court is Uber’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
(ECF 66, “Uber Mot.”) on the limited question of whether—assuming, for purposes of this
Motion only, that Plaintiffs qualify as “employees” and Uber as an “employer” under the
FLSA 2—the time they spent Online the Uber App is compensable work time under the FLSA,
and by extension, the PMWA. 3
As the Court has noted throughout this case, Plaintiffs’ claims advocate for a novel
application of the FLSA, particularly its requirements with respect to time spent “on call.”
Critically, while the FLSA’s extension to “on call” time has heretofore been applied only to
traditional, scheduled shift work, Plaintiffs here ask for its application in the context of the new
“gig economy,” as Plaintiffs refer to it, where individuals, such as Plaintiffs, work in accordance
with their own personal schedules. As explained more fully below, the Court decided to resolve
this issue as a threshold matter, the subject of Uber’s motion for partial summary judgment.
For the following reasons, Uber’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment will be
DENIED, without prejudice, and with leave to refile at the completion of discovery.
The Court has already found that Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint adequately alleged that
they were employees within the meaning of the FLSA, but has not—and will not presently
decide—whether they have proved as much, by a preponderance of the evidence.
Because the PMWA “substantially parallels” the FLSA, see 43 Pa. Stat. Ann. §
333.104(a), (c), federal courts are directed to interpretation of the FLSA when analyzing claims
under the PMWA. See, e.g., Ford-Greene, 106 F. Supp. 3d at 610–13 (applying the Third
Circuit’s analysis in Davis to the plaintiff’s claims under both the FLSA and
PMWA); Philadelphia Metal Trades Council v. Konnerud Consulting W., A.S., 15-cv5621, 2016 WL 1086709, at *5-6 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 21, 2016) (same).
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Plaintiffs commenced this action on January 6, 2016, by filing a Complaint in the Court
of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. (ECF 1, Ex. A). On February 4, 2016, Defendants
removed the action to this court, citing federal question and diversity jurisdiction. (Id.)
A. Prior Motion Practice
On March 22, 2016, Uber moved for the first time to dismiss this case and compel
arbitration, and, in a separate motion, to stay this action. (See ECF 15, 18). In those motions,
Uber argued that an order issued by Judge Chen in the Northern District of California in related
cases had “nullified” the arbitration provision in Uber's Service Agreement, thereby raising a
“threshold question of arbitrability” that had to be decided by an arbitrator. Finding that Judge
Chen’s order had no such effect, this court concluded that Plaintiffs had complied with the
arbitration opt-out procedures allowed by the Service Agreement. The Court denied both
motions. (ECF 37); Razak v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. 16-cv-573, 2016 WL 3960556, at *1 (E.D.
Pa. July 21, 2016).
On August 19, 2016, Uber moved for Judgment on the Pleadings, (ECF 38), which, on
October 7, 2016, this Court granted in part, and denied in part. See Razak, 2016 WL 5874822, at
*1. Importantly, the Court found that Plaintiffs had alleged sufficient facts that they qualified as
“employees” rather than “independent contractors,” under the “economic realities” test, such that
judgment on the pleadings was not warranted. Id. at *4-5. Accordingly, the Court permitted
Plaintiffs’ minimum wage claims to proceed as pled. The Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ breach of
fiduciary duty claim with prejudice, but Plaintiffs’ FLSA and PMWA overtime claims without
prejudice, and with leave to file an amended complaint. Plaintiffs then filed an Amended
Complaint on October 13, 2016. (ECF 47, “Compl.”).
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On October 31, 2016, Uber moved to dismiss Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint in its
entirety, as well as to strike certain portions of it (ECF 48). The Court denied the motion to
dismiss. (ECF 54; Razak v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. 16-cv-573, 2016 WL 7241795, at *6 (E.D.
Pa. Dec. 14, 2016)). Specifically, the Court found that Plaintiffs’ allegations that they were
Online the Uber App for more than 40 hours in a given week was sufficient—at the pleading
stage—to state a claim for overtime pay under the FLSA.
However, the Court further found that the question of whether Plaintiffs’ time spent
Online the Uber App was actually compensable work time, within the meaning of the FLSA, was
“an important, potentially dispositive one in this case.” Id. Accordingly, “notwithstanding the
Court’s conclusion that Plaintiffs ha[d] sufficiently alleged FLSA overtime violations,” the Court
designated the issue of compensability of Plaintiffs’ Online time for expedited discovery. Id.
B. Uber’s Instant Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
After substantial discovery, including depositions of Plaintiffs and certain third parties, as
well as other filings, Uber filed its Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on the limited issue of
the compensability of Plaintiffs’ Online time. While maintaining its position that Plaintiffs are
independent contractors rather than employees, Uber moves on the basis that even assuming that
Plaintiffs did qualify as “employees” under the FLSA, Plaintiffs’ time spent Online the Uber
App, during which they are not actually transporting riders, is not compensable time under the
Plaintiff filed a memorandum in opposition to Uber’s Motion (ECF 68, “Pls.’ Opp’n), to
which they attached a statement of disputed facts (ECF 68-1). However, Plaintiffs’ submission
failed to comply with F.R.C.P. 56(c), as well as this Court’s practice order, in that it failed to
provide record citations to support many of their contentions about disputed facts. Accordingly,
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the Court entered an Order requiring Plaintiffs to supplement their prior filings to comport with
the Federal Rules and this Court’s practices. (ECF 79). In Plaintiffs’ supplemental submission
(ECF 80, “PSOF2”), they did include record citations which Plaintiffs claim support their
contentions regarding disputed facts; however a close look at the underlying documents cited
reveals that many of them do not create a genuine dispute of fact. 4 For instance, Plaintiffs rely
significantly on Uber’s written regulations, without any evidence that Plaintiffs themselves
suffered any loss of compensation or other detriment on account of these regulations. Plaintiffs
assert the following were disputed:
(1) Whether the Uber App limits Plaintiffs’ ability to ignore, reject, and cancel
UberBLACK requests (see PSOF2 ¶ 13).
Plaintiffs cite Uber regulations in support, which state, in pertinent part, Uber
“reserves the right to immediately deactivate” drivers’ access to the software and
service in the event that they “refus[e] to fully complete a trip after acceptance of
a trip request, as described in the Software License and Online Service
Agreement, without waiver by the Uber or Uber.” (ECF 68-13, “Driver
(2) Whether too many rejected trips affect a driver’s “acceptance rate,” which, at a
certain impermissibly low level, subjects drivers to termination or deactivation.
(PSOF2 ¶¶ 41-44).
Plaintiffs cite Uber regulations in support, which state, in pertinent part, “[h]igh
acceptance rates are a critical part of reliable, high quality service, but not
accepting trip requests does not lead to permanent loss of your account. . . But not
accepting dispatches causes delays and degrades the reliability of the system. If
you don't want to accept trips, just log off. If you consistently decline trip
requests, we will assume you do not want to accept more trips and you may be
logged out of the app.” (ECF 68-6, “Uber Community Guidelines”).
Plaintiff also substantially amended their responses, and included, at paragraphs 82
through 103, “Additional Facts” not included in their original statement of undisputed facts. On
August 31, 2017, Uber moved to strike these additional facts (ECF 83), and Plaintiffs filed an
opposition on September 5, 2017 (ECF 86). As the Court noted at Oral Argument, it will not
strike Plaintiffs’ amendments, but will strike the additional facts included at paragraphs 82
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(3) Whether drivers can immediately go back Online if they decline three consecutive
trips and are automatically switched offline. (PSOF2 ¶¶ 16, 29).
Plaintiffs cite Uber regulations in support, which state, in pertinent part, “[w]hat
lead to deactivation? We will deactivate any account or accounts (including
permanently) associated with fraudulent activity, which may include . . .
accepting trips without intention to complete.”). (ECF 68-8 at 9, “Driver
(4) Whether cancelling a ride after accepting it subjects drivers to deactivation. (PSOF2
Plaintiffs again cite portions of Uber’s Driver Addendum and Driver Deactivation
Policy in support.
(5) Whether drivers’ accounts may be suspended or terminated if their “cancellation
rate” gets above a certain acceptable level. (PSOF2 ¶ 19).
Plaintiffs cite Uber’s Driver Deactivation Policy in support, which states, in
pertinent part, “[e]ach city has a maximum cancellation rate, based on the average
cancellation rate of the drivers in that area. We will alert you multiple times if
your cancellation rate is much higher than other drivers in your city, after which
you may not be able to go online for a short period of time. If your cancellation
rate continues to exceed the maximum limit, you may be deactivated.” (ECF 68-8
Since Plaintiffs failed to show that any of these issues affected them, the Court cannot
accept these as “genuine” or as “material” to this case. In addition to the above examples in
which Plaintiffs fail to cite record evidence that creates genuine disputes of fact, Uber more fully
documented other deficiencies in its response to Plaintiffs’ supplemental submission (ECF 85).
On September 6, 2017, the Court held Oral Argument on Uber’s partial motion for
summary judgment, at which the Court posed a number of questions to counsel regarding the
compensability issue, to determine which facts in the record truly are or are not disputed. (See
Transcript of 9/6 Oral Argument “Tr.”). The Court will set forth below a summary of the
undisputed facts in the record and developed further at Oral Argument, as they are relevant both
to the issue of compensability, and to the issue of whether Plaintiffs are employees or
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independent contractors, which will be decided promptly after a short extension for any relevant
The following is a fair account of the factual assertions at issue in this case, as taken
from, inter alia, Uber’s Statement of Undisputed Facts (ECF 66-3), and not genuinely disputed
A. Functionality of UberBLACK Platform
Plaintiffs are Pennsylvania drivers participating in the Uber ride-sharing service who
bring this action on behalf of a putative class of “[a]ll persons who provided limousine services,
now known as UberBLACK, through Defendants’ App in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.” (Compl.
¶ 106). Uber furnishes a mobile smartphone application (the “Uber App”) “providing ondemand car services to the general public.” (Id. ¶ 22). Gegen is a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Uber that holds a certificate of public convenience from (and is licensed by) the Philadelphia
Parking Authority (“PPA”) to operate a limousine company. (ECF 66-3 Uber’s Statement of
Undisputed Facts (“SOF”) ¶ 3; ECF 68-1, Plaintiffs’ Statement of Disputed or Undisputed Facts
(“PSOF”) ¶ 3). Plaintiffs are certified limousine drivers who provide services as drivers through
the Uber App’s UberBLACK platform. (Compl. ¶¶ 2, 59). To access the Uber App, drivers
open the App on their mobile device and log in using their usernames and passwords. (SOF ¶
14). While being logged on permits drivers to, inter alia, check their account status, drivers are
not eligible to receive trip requests from UberBLACK riders (“riders”) simply by virtue of being
logged on. Many drivers, in fact, remain logged on 24 hours per day. (Tr. at 5).
After logging on, to be eligible to receive a trip request from a prospective rider, drivers
must tap a button to go online (“Online”). (Id. ¶ 15). Absent connectivity issues, there is
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nothing else drivers need to do, other than go Online, to receive trip requests. (Id. ¶ 16). When a
trip request comes in, absent connectivity issues, the driver’s phone will beep and the screen will
flash. (Id. ¶ 20). When a trip request appears on the driver’s mobile device, the rider’s (1) name,
(2) star rating, and (3) pickup location will appear, along with (4) any surge fare in effect, (5) the
time that the rider requested UberBLACK, UberX (a lower cost Uber “product”), or any other
Uber product, providing the ride, and (6) the estimated amount of time for the driver to reach the
rider. (Id. ¶ 21).
The rider’s destination, however, is not provided until the driver indicates that the trip has
begun (which could be before the rider actually enters the driver’s vehicle). (PSOF ¶ 21; Tr. at
23, 29). According to Uber’s regulations, the rider’s destination is not provided until that time to
prevent any potential discrimination by a driver who, for instance, may not want to travel to
certain neighborhoods. (Tr. at 24)
B. How UberBLACK Drivers get Paid
While Uber sets the financial terms of all UberBLACK fares, and riders have their credit
cards linked to the Uber App, the payment structure is such that riders pay an independent
transportation carrier—either a limousine company or individual driver—licensed by the PPA.
After the ride is completed, the carrier pays Uber a fee. The carrier then pays the driver his
compensation. The driver’s compensation is calculated based on some combination of factors,
including, but not limited to, the time spent driving, the distance traveled, and the rider demand
at the time of the trip. (Tr. at 18-20).
C. Accepting or Rejecting Trips
If a driver chooses to accept a trip request, the driver taps “accept.” (SOF ¶ 25). If a
driver does not press the “accept” button within 15 seconds of the trip request, it will be deemed
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rejected by the driver by default. The Uber App will then automatically route the trip request to
the next closest driver, until a driver accepts the request. If, however, no other driver accepts the
trip, the trip request goes unfulfilled, as Uber cannot require any driver to accept a trip. (SOF ¶
Drivers are free to reject trip requests for any reason. (Id. ¶¶ 22, 24, 50-51). If a driver
ignores three trip requests in a row, however, the Uber App will automatically move the driver
from Online to offline, such that he will not be eligible at that time to accept trip requests. (SOF
¶ 29). Uber refers to this as a system integrity measure since, as described above, a trip request
is sent to only one Uber driver at any given time, and having drivers who do not intend to give
rides Online slows down the process of connecting riders and drivers, and leads to a poorer user
experience for riders. Drivers who have been automatically transitioned offline, however, may
go back Online at any point, including immediately after going offline, if they wish to do so. (Id.
Uber also has regulations under which it reserves the right to penalize drivers for not
accepting rides. As one example, the driver may have an “acceptance rate” that is deemed
unsatisfactory. However, there is no dispute that Plaintiffs have not personally been penalized
for their respective acceptance rates, or for failing to accept rides. This court has not been
presented with evidence that, in practice, Uber imposed any consequences for drivers’
D. Cancelling Trips
Drivers are free to cancel trips even after they have accepted them, which Plaintiffs
testified they have done on numerous occasions. (SOF ¶ 41). A driver may cancel a trip after he
has accepted it but before the rider enters the vehicle if, for instance, the driver calls the rider and
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asks the rider’s destination, and the driver decides he does not want to travel there. Additionally,
if the driver indicates on the Uber App that the trip has begun prematurely, he will see the rider’s
destination on the Uber App, and may choose to cancel it at that time.
Uber has regulations under which it reserves the right to penalize drivers for cancelling
trips, including if they have a “cancellation rate” that is deemed unsatisfactory. (SOF ¶ 43).
However, there is no dispute that Plaintiffs never suffered any consequences for cancelling trips.
This court has not been presented with any evidence that, in practice, Uber imposed any
consequences for drivers’ cancellation rates.
E. Drivers’ Physical Location
Trip requests via the Uber App are automatically sent to the driver closest to the
requesting rider. (SOF ¶ 35). For drivers registered with UberBLACK in Philadelphia, the
requesting rider must be located within Philadelphia. (Tr. at 9). The driver, however, may be
anywhere he chooses. If he is far away, and there are other available drivers in closer proximity
to a given rider, however, the driver will be unlikely to receive trip requests. (Id. at 10). Drivers
have no way of knowing, from the Uber App, what the “demand” is at any given time; namely,
whether or how many other drivers are Online. (Id. at 6).
Uber may, from time to time, send drivers information about rider demand that may be of
interest to them (e.g., a concert at the Wells Fargo Center, etc.), specifically dates or times of
high rider demand. (SOF ¶¶ 57, 58). However, ultimately drivers independently decide where to
go to offer rides while Online, and drivers are free to ignore any and all information conveyed to
them by Uber. (Id. ¶¶ 34, 59, 60).
One exception to drivers’ ability to accept trip requests from anywhere, so long as they
are Online, is at Philadelphia’s major transportation hubs, namely 30th Street Train Station and
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Philadelphia International Airport (the “Airport”). There is a “queue” system at both locations
that routes trips to the next driver in the queue, (Id. ¶ 36), and a driver can only enter, or advance
in, the queue while inside a designated zone, (Id. ¶ 37). Additionally, at the Airport, drivers can
only receive trip requests if located inside the “west parking lot.” Drivers, including Plaintiffs,
sometimes try to evade this requirement by Uber by, for instance, leaving their phones inside the
designated zone at the Airport (but outside the west parking lot), such that they can advance in
the queue without having to be physically with their phone. (Id. ¶¶ 55-56).
F. Drivers’ Activities While Online
Uber places no restrictions on drivers’ ability to engage in personal activities while
Online, and Plaintiffs here, in fact, engaged in a range of personal activities while Online. The
undisputed facts in the record reflect that, while Online, Plaintiffs, inter alia, accepted rides from
private clients, slept, did personal errands, smoked cigarettes, took personal phone calls, rejected
trips because they were tired, and conducted business for their independent transportation
companies. (SOF ¶¶ 45-54). Drivers also sometimes forget to go offline, such that they remain
in the Online mode on the Uber App despite having no intention of completing trips. (SOF ¶
The Court accepts, for purposes of this motion, Plaintiffs’ assertion that (1) Razak spent
an average of 7 hours and 17 minutes Online each day, receiving an average of over 10 fare
requests each day and completing more than 6 trips; (2) Sabani spent an average of 12 hours
Online each day, receiving an average of more than 5 requests per day and completing 4 trips;
and (3) Cherdoud spent an average of 9 hours, 16 minutes per day Online each day, receiving
over 7 ride requests and completing over 5 trips. (PSOF ¶ 68 (citing ECF 68-10, 11, 12)). These
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figures reveal that Plaintiffs spent a large portion of their time Online not actually completing
trips, and engaged, for at least some of the time, in these various personal activities.
A district court should grant a motion for summary judgment if the movant can show
“that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as
a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). A dispute is “genuine” if “the evidence is such that a
reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A factual dispute is “material” if it “might affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law.” Id.
A party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility for informing
the district court of the basis for its motion and identifying those portions of the record that it
believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). Where the non-moving party bears the burden of proof on a particular
issue at trial, the moving party’s initial burden can be met simply by “pointing out to the district
court . . . that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Id. at 325.
After the moving party has met its initial burden, the adverse party's response must, “by citing to
particular parts of materials in the record” set out specific facts showing a genuine issue for trial.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(1)(A). “Speculation and conclusory allegations do not satisfy [the nonmoving party’s] duty.” Ridgewood Bd. of Educ. V. N.E. ex rel. M.E., 172 F.3d 238, 252 (3d
Cir. 1999) (superseded by statute on other grounds as recognized by P.P. v. West Chester Area
Sch. Dist., 585 F.3d 727, 730 (3d Cir. 2009)). Summary judgment is appropriate if the nonmoving party fails to rebut by making a factual showing “that a genuine issue of material fact
exists and that a reasonable factfinder could rule in its favor.” Id. Under Rule 56, the Court
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must view the evidence presented on the motion in the light most favorable to the opposing
party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255.
DISCUSSION OF LEGAL FRAMEWORK
A. Compensability of “On Call” Time Under FLSA
FLSA and DOL Regulations
Section 207(a) of the FLSA provides that employees receive at least one and a half times
pay for any overtime work in excess of 40 hours a week. 29 U.S.C. § 207(a). The FLSA itself
provides no definition of the term “work,” in general, or whether time spent “on call” is
compensable “work” within the meaning of the statute.
To help in the determining of whether on-call time is compensable, the Department of
Labor (“DOL”) promulgated certain regulations. These regulations provide, in pertinent part,
(b) Compensable hours of work generally include all of the time during
which an employee is on duty on the employer’s premises or at a
prescribed workplace, as well as all other time during which the employee
is suffered or permitted to work for the employer.
(c) Time spent away from the employer’s premises under conditions that
are so circumscribed that they restrict the employee from effectively using
the time for personal pursuits also constitutes compensable hours of work.
(d) An employee who is not required to remain on the employer’s
premises but is merely required to leave word at home or with company
officials where he or she may be reached is not working while on call.
Time spent at home on call may or may not be compensable depending on
whether the restrictions placed on the employee preclude using the time
for personal pursuits. [W]here . . . the conditions placed on the
employee’s activities are so restrictive that they employee cannot use the
time effectively for personal pursuits, such time spend on call is
(f) A police officer, who has completed his or her tour of duty and who is
given a patrol car to drive home and use on personal business, is not
working during the travel time even where the radio must be left on so that
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the officer can respond to emergency calls. Of course, the time spent in
responding to such calls is compensable.
29 C.F.R. § 553.221(b)-(d); (f).
Essentially, these regulations indicate that on-call time is compensable if the employee is
required to remain on the employer’s premises, or if the employee, although not required to
remain on the employer’s premises, finds his time on call away from the employer’s premises is
so restricted that it interferes with personal pursuits.
Supreme Court Precedent Regarding Compensability of “On Call”
Time Under the FLSA: Armour & Skidmore
While the FLSA does not provide a definition for the term “work,” the Supreme Court
has interpreted the word to mean “physical or mental exertion (whether burdensome or not)
controlled or required by the employer and pursued necessarily and primarily for the benefit of
the employer and his business.” Tennessee Coal Co. v. Muscoda Local, 321 U.S. 590, 598
The Supreme Court has further developed this definition into a method for determining
whether on-call time is compensable “work” under the FLSA. In Armour & Co. v. Wantock,
323 U.S. 126 (1944), the Court stated,
[A]n employer . . . may hire a man to do nothing, or to do nothing but wait
for something to happen . . . Readiness to serve may be hired, quite as
much as service itself, and time spent lying in wait for threats to the safety
of the employer’s property may be treated by the parties as a benefit to the
Id. at 133. That same year, in Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134 (1944), the Court held,
[N]o principle of law found either in the statute or in Court decisions
precludes waiting time from also being working time. We have not
attempted to, and we cannot, lay down a legal formula to resolve cases so
varied in their facts. Whether . . . such time falls within or without the Act
is a question of fact to be resolved by appropriate findings of the trial
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Id. at 136-7.
In both cases, the Supreme Court stressed that the facts and circumstances of each case
should determine whether periods of waiting for work should be compensable under the FLSA.
As the Court in Skidmore famously put it, the “facts may show that the employee was engaged to
wait, or they may show that he waited to be engaged.” This is the critical, albeit fuzzy, line that
it is a court’s responsibility to draw.
Third Circuit’s Test for Compensability of “On Call” Time Under the
FLSA: Ingram v. Cty. of Bucks, 144 F.3d 265 (3d Cir. 1998)
The leading case in the Third Circuit regarding the compensability of on-call time is
Ingram v. Cty. of Bucks, 144 F.3d 265, 268 (3d Cir. 1998). In Ingram, the Court outlined a four
factor test (that many courts now utilize) to determine whether on-call time is compensable:
(1) “whether the employee may carry a beeper or leave home”;
(2) “the frequency of calls and the nature of the employer’s demands”;
(3) “the employee’s ability to maintain a flexible on-call schedule and switch on-call
(4) “whether the employee actually engaged in personal activities during on-call time.”
Id. at 268. The Ingram court cautioned that only if an analysis of these factors “reveal[s] onerous
on-call policies and significant interference with the employee’s personal life” is the on-call time
compensable. No single factor is deemed dispositive.
In Ingram, plaintiffs were deputy sheriffs who, when on night shifts, were required to be
on call overnight (post shift) and all weekend. They were not required to stay on the premises or
in uniform while on call, but had to carry pagers and, if paged, report to work within a
“reasonable time.” Applying the relevant factors, the court held that the plaintiffs’ pursuits were
not so restricted such that their time on call was compensable because (1) they were able to wear
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a beeper and leave word where they may be reached; (2) the frequency of calls was not that
burdensome and they were not required to report in a fixed amount of time; (3) deputies were
able to trade on-call shifts; and (4) the record reflected that the plaintiffs engaged in personal
activities while on call, such as shopping, reading, watching TV, etc.
Other Relevant Courts of Appeals Cases Analyzing Compensability of
“On Call” Time Under the FLSA
Several other Courts of Appeals have addressed the compensability of on-call time, either
applying the Ingram factors or a different, but substantially similar test. These cases are
instructive to the extent that they show how courts have weighed the relative importance of
various factors, yet none of them deal with the unique facts present in the instant case.
For instance, in Brigham v. Eugene Water & Elec. Bd., 357 F.3d 931 (9th Cir. 2004),
plaintiffs were employees at a power generation facility, tasked with monitoring the site, which
required living on-site with their families in housing provided by the employer. Plaintiffs
alleged that their “duty shift” amounted to uncompensated work because they were only
compensated for 10 out of their 24 hour on-call shift, excluding “call-out time lasting beyond a
call’s first 15 minutes.”
Noting that “determining whether ‘on call’ or ‘waiting’ time constitutes compensable
‘working’ time for purposes of FLSA . . . is particularly challenging,” the court stated that it
nevertheless “must find a way to balance the [applicable] factors,” 5 and held that they weigh “at
The Ninth Circuit utilizes a 7-factor test, outlined in Owens v. Local No. 169, Ass’n of
W. Pulp & Paper Workers, 971 F.2d 347, 350 (9th Cir. 1992), to gauge the extent to which
employees can pursue personal activities during the course of on-call shifts such that their time is
compensable. These factors are: (1) whether there was an on-premises living requirement; (2)
whether there were excessive geographical restrictions on employees’ movements; (3) whether
the frequency of calls was unduly restrictive; (4) whether a fixed time limit for response was
unduly restrictive; (5) whether the on-call employee could easily trade on-call responsibilities;
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 17 of 31
least narrowly” in favor of the employees. 6 Id. at 937. Of chief importance to the court was the
fact that “the employees had to be able to hear their phones ring at all times and were required to
respond instantaneously to alerts and calls while on their duty shifts,” such that they were
“effectively tethered to their homes.” In the event of a call, they would have to “reach the
powerhouse and accompanying dam—which was half a mile away and most expeditiously
reached on foot—as soon as humanly possible.”
The court found these limitations sufficiently “severe,” and compared them to those
present in Ingram, where employees “were not required to report to [the] office within a fixed
amount of time, and often took 15-45 minutes before leaving their location in response to a call.”
Id. at 937. The court found the relatively low number of calls not particularly significant in this
context because “[w]hile on call, these particular employees were responsible for the safety of
thousands of people and, accordingly, had to be absolutely prepared to respond at all times (i.e.
rested, sober, clothed, and otherwise able to race immediately to the trouble source if needed,”
which put the employees in a state of “constant pressure.” Also, importantly, the court did not
find it significant that the employees were able to exchange their duty shifts in advance. The
court explained, “[a]fter all, our task ultimately is to determine how to characterize the time the
employees spent on their duty shifts, and the employees’ ability occasionally to avoid those
(6) whether the use of a pager could ease restrictions; and (7) whether the employee had actually
engaged in personal activities during call-in time.
The Ninth Circuit’s analysis of “on call” compensability, articulated in Berry, 30 F.3d at
1180 (9th Cir. 1994)—unlike the Third Circuit’s—includes both an analysis of the degree to
which the employee is free to engage in personal activities (the Owens factors), and an inquiry
into the agreement between the parties and reasonableness thereof. The court in Brigham
ultimately remanded the case on the basis that the district court had not properly considered the
effect of the parties’ agreement that 10 hours of the 24 hour duty shift would be compensable
(though suggested that the additional 14 hours of on-call time was not compensable because,
even though the Owens factors weighed in favor of the employees, the agreement was
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 18 of 31
shifts altogether does little to shape our view of the restrictions imposed on them during such
shifts.” Id. at 940.
In Whitten v. City of Easley, 62 Fed. App’x 477, 479–80 (4th Cir. 2003), the court
applied a test identical to the Ingram factors to plaintiffs firefighters’ allegations that their 48
hour on-call shift (which followed a 24 hour “on duty” shift) was compensable under the FLSA.
The court held that “the ‘on call’ policy did not substantially impinge upon the firefighters’
personal pursuits” such that they were not entitled to compensation for their on call hours under
the FLSA. Of chief importance to the outcome was the fact that (1) firefighters were equipped
with pagers that they carried during on call shifts, “which enabled them to pursue personal
activities during those days”; (2) they were “encouraged” but not “required” to respond to 80%
of their calls while on call, which was deemed “not overly burdensome”; (3) the firefighters were
able to trade on call shifts with other firefighters, enabling them to “maintain a flexible on call
scheduled”; and (4) the record was replete with evidence of the firefighters’ freedom to enjoy
personal activities while on call.
In Rutlin v. Prime Succession, Inc., 220 F.3d 737, 743–44 (6th Cir. 2000), an employee
who worked as a funeral director and embalmer alleged he was not properly compensated for
time he was required to be on call; here, that meant answering phone calls that were transferred
from the funeral home to his home phone line on certain nights and weekends. The evidence
showed he answered 15-20 calls per night which amounted to about an hour of his time. In the
event that one of the calls was a so-called “death call,” which required him to leave his home and
bring the body to the funeral home, he was compensated for that time. The court held that
plaintiff was entitled to compensation only for the time he spent actually on the phone, as it was
not “typical on-call time; rather [plaintiff] was working, albeit from home.” The court was not
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 19 of 31
convinced that the true on-call time (the rest of the evening) was compensable, notwithstanding
the fact that plaintiff was expected to remain at home while on call, and his call duties
“prevented him from drinking alcohol, visiting his children, or boating, and  his meals, evening
activities, and sleep were disrupted by his on-call duties.”
In Jonites v. Exelon Corp., 522 F.3d 721, 724 (7th Cir. 2008), Judge Posner had to
consider whether the implementation of a “call out” program in a collective bargaining
agreement violated the FLSA. Pursuant to the program, off-duty employees were alerted to their
home phone/beeper/cell phone when “manpower is needed on an emergency basis.” An
employee is not required to be in any particular location; he just must respond within 2 hours if
he accepts the call out. An employee is also not required to accept a call out, but “if he fails to
answer more than 50 percent of the calls or refuses to accept more than 35 percent of the call
outs . . . he is disciplined. And if he continues to fall below either minimum he may be fired, in
which event he is forbidden to work on Com Ed property or projects even as the employee of an
independent contractor.” Id. at 722. The plaintiffs argued that the frequent calls and high
required response rate disrupted their home lives.
The court held that while the call-out program “curtails a worker’s freedom of action
somewhat,” it does not rise to the level of “a hardship that turns his waiting into working,” and
therefore does not render plaintiffs’ off-duty time compensable under the FLSA. While he may
not be able to “leave town for the weekend,” that “does not mean that he must stay in the house
all weekend” given the 2-hour response window. 7
In Brand v. Comcast Corp., 135 F. Supp. 3d 713, 727 (N.D. Ill. 2015), the district judge
applied Jonites in granting summary judgment against plaintiffs Comcast technicians’ claims that
they were entitled to compensation for on-call shifts where they were required to report to work
within 30 minutes of being called by a company representative, and failure to respond to a
communication within a few minute subjected them to “corrective action.” The court first
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In Bright v. Houston Nw. Med. Ctr. Survivor, Inc., 934 F.2d 671, 674–75 (5th Cir. 1991)
(en banc), the court held that “the undisputed facts afford no basis for a finding that the
employee’s on-call time was working time for purposes of [the FLSA].” Here, plaintiff was a
biomedical equipment repair technician, and in that role was required to wear a beeper and be on
call to come to the hospital to make emergency repairs to equipment if necessary. The plaintiff
was not compensated for on-call time, but if a call was made, he was compensated with 4 hours
compensatory time at his hourly rate, and was required to work 4 fewer hours the following work
day. The only 3 restrictions during his on-call time were (1) he could not be intoxicated; (2) he
must always be reachable by beeper; and (3) while he need not be on the premises or at some
specific location, he must be able to drive to the hospital within 20 minutes from the time he was
paged. Id. at 678. The court held that these restrictions did not render his on-call time working
time because the conditions were simply not restrictive enough.
In conclusion, the court noted, “Had the twenty to thirty minute ‘leash’ been longer,
[plaintiff] would, of course, have been able to do more things, but that does not mean that within
the applicable restrictions he could not effectively use the on-call time wholly for his own private
purposes.” Id. at 678.
The court was also not persuaded by the fact that the plaintiff never had “any reprieve”
from his on-call duties. It explained, “[w]e do not deny the obvious truth that the long continued
aspect of [plaintiff’s] on-call status made his job highly undesirable and arguably somewhat
mentioned that, in Jonites, “despite the fact that the employer’s policy kept employees tethered to
their phones or beepers at all times, . . . the ensuing hardships [were] insufficient to turn their off
time into working time.” In this case, the court continued, “the plaintiffs only had travel
restrictions during their one-week on-call shifts, which they rotated through approximately every
six weeks. Accordingly, the frequency with which they were subject to the inconveniences
inherent in being on call is insufficient to push their on-call claims beyond the summary
judgment stage.” Id. at 729.
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 21 of 31
oppressive. . . . But FLSA’s overtime provisions are more narrowly focused than being simply
directed at requiring extra compensation for oppressive or confining conditions of employment.”
The Bright court relied to some extent on Norton v. Worthen Van Service, Inc., 839 F.2d
653 (10th Cir. 1988). There, the plaintiffs were van drivers who transported railroad crews at
irregular and unpredictable intervals. During the disputed on-call time, “drivers must be near
enough to the employer’s premises to be able to respond to calls within fifteen to twenty
minutes.” Id. 654. They were only compensated, however, in the event they were actually
called. They argued “that the unpredictability of assignments and the short response time which
they are allowed preclude their using this waiting period for their own purposes.” Id. The
district court judgment for the employer was affirmed, the Tenth Circuit noting that the “drivers
spent their time between assignments at the homes of friends, at church, at laundromats, at
restaurants, at pool halls, and at a local gymnasium” and that “a simple paging device, which the
drivers are free to purchase and to use, would have allayed the necessity of remaining by a
phone.” Id. at 655-56.
In Renfro v. City of Emporia, Kan., 948 F.2d 1529, 1536–37 (10th Cir. 1991), firefighters
alleged that they were entitled to overtime under the FLSA for time spent on 24-hour “on-call
period[s],” during which they were not required to remain on the premises, but were required to
carry a pager and return to work within 20 minutes if called. The uncontroverted facts in the
record revealed that firefighters were called four to five times per day, the average duration of a
call was an hour, being late or failing to respond to a call resulted in some discipline, and that
while on call firefighters participated in all kinds of social and recreational activities. Id. at
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The court held that based on those undisputed facts, the district court had not erred in
holding that the firefighters’ on-call time was compensable as a matter of law, and properly
granted their motion for summary judgment. The court also held that the district court had not
erred in its application of the law to the facts, such it properly found (1) “the frequency of
callbacks to be an important distinction” from case law holding on call time was not
compensable, and (2) “the nature of the firefighters’ employment [was] a relevant factor in
determining that the on-call time was compensable. Firefighters must be alert and ready to
protect the community, and the time firefighters spend lying in wait for emergencies could be
considered a benefit to the employer and thus compensable under [the] FLSA.” Id. at 1538.
Other District Courts’ Discussion Regarding Applicability of “On
Call” Legal Framework to Uber Drivers’ claims
This decision may be the first to consider the compensability of time spent Online the
Uber app in the Third Circuit, but is not the first to have considered and discussed it, albeit in
other procedural postures.
In Yucesoy v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. 15-CV-00262-EMC, 2016 WL 493189, at *5–6
(N.D. Cal. Feb. 9, 2016), Uber moved to dismiss plaintiffs drivers’ complaints for failure to state
a claim. While the district court granted the motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims for violations of
Massachusetts minimum wage laws—which, the court noted, looks to federal case law applying
the FLSA—it did so on the basis that plaintiffs had failed to plead sufficient facts to show that
their waiting time was compensable, not because the time was not compensable as a matter of
law. Citing Ninth and Tenth Circuit precedent applying tests for the compensability of on-call
time, the court stated,
The Court does not agree that waiting time is not compensable as a
matter of law; instead, it is a fact-specific inquiry that looks the
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 23 of 31
degree to which an employee is free to engage in personal
In the instant case, Plaintiffs have failed to plead specific facts to
support their claim. Plaintiffs instead generally allege that they are
required to accept “most” of the requests that they receive “in
order not to risk being deactivated by Uber.” They do not explain
how often these requests came in, how many of the requests they
must accept, and the magnitude of the risk of deactivation if
requests are not accepted. Without such information, it is unclear
what ability drivers have to conduct personal business while
logged onto the app. While Plaintiffs argued at the hearing that
they should be permitted to find such information in discovery,
Plaintiffs at the very least should know generally how often they
receive ride requests and what the stated risk of termination is for
not accepting requests; although they have access to such
information, they failed to allege specific facts. As this is Plaintiffs'
Third Amended Complaint, the Court will dismiss Plaintiffs’
minimum wage and overtime claims with prejudice.
Yucesoy v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. 15-CV-00262-EMC, 2016 WL 493189, at *5–6 (N.D. Cal.
Feb. 9, 2016).
Similarly, in O’Connor v. Uber Techs., Inc., 201 F. Supp. 3d 1110, 1125 (N.D. Cal. Aug.
18, 2016), in which the court denied the parties’ request for preliminarily approval of a classwide settlement, the court noted that a “primary question” with respect to plaintiffs’ minimum
wage and overtime claims was “whether drivers would be entitled to compensation for time
spent waiting to perform a task.” Id. The court noted that these claims had been dismissed in
Yucesoy for failure to plead specific facts to state the claim, and stated that,
the Court does not conclude that drivers could not prevail
on this claim were sufficient allegations pleaded and
evidence presented. . . Uber could be found liable for
waiting time given their prior policy of deactivating drivers
for low acceptance rates, and their present policy of
suspending drivers for low acceptance rates. Again, the
problem with the pleadings in Yucesoy was that Plaintiffs
had failed to plead sufficient facts in their complaint,
despite it being their fourth complaint in that action.
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 24 of 31
Id. at n.11 (internal citations omitted); see also Bradshaw v. Uber Techs., Inc., No. CIV-16-388R, 2017 WL 2455151, at *9 (W.D. Okla. June 6, 2017) (denying Uber’s motion for judgment on
the pleadings where plaintiffs allege they were driving 1500 hours, and noting that “[a]lthough
the Court has no doubt the issue of whether all . . . 1500 hours was compensable time will be
litigated in this action at some point, Plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient to avoid judgment on
the pleadings on this issue,” and “if Plaintiff’s calculations included waiting time, such time is
not per se excludable. Rather, the inquiry on whether waiting time is compensable is based on
the particular facts of a given case.”) (citing Gilligan v. City of Emporia, Kan., 986 F.2d 410,
413 (10th Cir. 1993)).
These cases (1) suggest that the on-call framework is applicable to the unique facts
present in these Uber driver cases, and (2) offer insight into the types of factual questions that
will be most relevant when applying the on-call framework; namely what ability drivers have to
conduct personal business while Online the Uber App.
The Court has located one recent case that has considered, on summary judgment, the
compensability of on-call time in the “gig economy” context. In Lawson v. Grubhub, Inc., No.
15-cv-5128, 2017 WL 2951608 (N.D. Cal. Jul. 10, 2017), the plaintiff was a delivery driver for
GrubHub, which is an online and mobile food ordering company. GrubHub users can place a
food order for pick up or delivery through the GrubHub platform (website or app).
The facts of this case are distinct, but still instructive. There, if the plaintiff wanted to
deliver food to customers, he was required to:
sign up for a ‘block’ that specifies the time period and the specific region.
Approximately once a week, GrubHub creates a certain number of blocks
and releases these block to drivers, who sign-up in advance for the blocks
they want to work. Managers determine the number of blocks that are
released based off of the historical order volume and predictions of how
much demand there will be at any given time. Drivers can also receive
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 25 of 31
orders when they are not signed up for a block by turning on the app and
making themselves available. Drivers can choose what market or region
they want to deliver in. Drivers can request to switch zones by asking a
driver specialist. . . . Once a driver signs up for a block, he or she is
expected to work that block of time. When a driver’s block starts the
driver turns on the GrubHub app and “toggle themselves available.” At
that point Grubhub sends the driver orders. . . Drivers are expected to be
available to accept delivered during their blocks. . . [and] have had their
contracts terminated for not making themselves available for blocks of
time they had signed up for.
GrubHub, 2017 WL 2951608, at *2-3. Critically, in considering GrubHub’s motion for
summary judgment as to plaintiff’s minimum wage and overtime claims (brought under
California state law), the court applied the Owens factors (the Ninth Circuit’s 7-factor test to
determine compensability of on-call time, described supra, at 14 n.4) to determine whether
plaintiff had raised a genuine issue of material fact as to whether GrubHub exerted sufficient
control over plaintiff such that his on-call time was compensable. The court concluded that he
had, and denied summary judgment, finding several facts in the Owens test of particular
(1) That a driver is required to advise a dispatch that he is on-call and must stay close to
the geographic area to which he chose assignment, and should not be unavailable to
receive incoming orders (favors plaintiff)
(2) That the frequency of calls was highly restrictive (evidence that plaintiff received up
to 4 hours at the same time), and drivers cannot easily trade responsibilities or
subcontract (favors plaintiff)
(3) That plaintiff could rest and sometimes deliver food for other companies when
scheduled on a block. (favors GrubHub)
Id. at *8.
The court also found several factors in the test not relevant under the factual
circumstances of the case, namely:
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 26 of 31
(1) “Factor one, the on-premises living requirement, is irrelevant because the nature of
the work—driving—is inherently mobile and therefore cannot be decided in favor of
either Plaintiff or Defendant.”
(2) “A pager would not ease restrictions because Plaintiff’s mobile phone, the modern
day equivalent of a pager, is the mechanism that communicates the restrictions and is
a work requirement—GrubHub’s app is the means by which drivers receive orders”;
(3) “Factor four is at best neutral. While there is no evidence that Grubhub required a set
time limit for deliveries, given the nature of the service—delivering restaurant food—
a reasonable trier of fact could find that deliveries had to be made rather quickly and
that Grubhub monitored the performance of the drivers.”
Id. The court held that since most of the factors “weigh in favor of Grubhub control, the Court
cannot conclude that no reasonable fact finder could find that the hours a driver is toggled on is
compensable time, at least when it is during a scheduled block.” Id.
GrubHub adds some credence to the notion that the established frameworks for
determining the compensability of on-call time may not be obsolete in the “gig economy” and
app-driven employment context.
A key unifying theme of the foregoing case law, but distinct from these plaintiffs’ facts,
is the existence of a schedule, crafted by the employer, in which the employee was obligated to
spend time working an expressly delineated shift or period of being on-call. Additionally, the
on-call time was not, as it is for Plaintiffs, the essence of their workload. Rather, it was an
ancillary, presumably unwelcome condition of the employee’s employment, such as responding
to unexpected emergencies. Accordingly, the case law surveyed above is of limited use because
the facts present in this case are so distinct.
Both parties seem to recognize that the factual circumstances of this case are novel, yet
they each frame the “unique” aspects of the case differently. Uber, for its part, argues that this is
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 27 of 31
not a typical on-call case because “in [the ordinary case], the nature of compensable waiting time
and on-call scenarios presupposes an obligation to remain on call during the specified time and
to complete a task for the employer upon the employer’s command or call. Here, however,
Plaintiffs concede that they could go offline whenever they chose to do so, and were not required
to respond in any way upon receiving a trip request.” (ECF 66, Uber Mot. at 21).
Plaintiffs, on the other hand, argue that Uber’s interpretation of the novel facts here leads
to a result that absolutely “no online time is compensable” because “even if their drivers are
employees, they can refuse work.” (ECF 76, “Pls.’ Supp. Br.” at 2). Plaintiffs contend that
Uber’s argument, in fact, ignores the key novel issue in this case, namely, the reality that the “gig
economy” has ushered in a new “Gilded Age.” The proposition that online time is not
compensable because ‘transportation providers retain the sole right to determine when, where,
and for how long they are online’ is a modern version of the Lochner-era argument that
repugnant workplace conditions are permissible because of the laborer’s ‘freedom of contract.’”
(Id. at 3). Plaintiffs contend that “[t]he premise of Uber’s current motion is not only legally
antiquated, it is factually false.” (Id.). The Court rejects Plaintiffs’ historical analogies as
figures of speech unrelated to the undisputed facts summarized above.
Notwithstanding each party’s acknowledgement of the unique nature of this case, they
each proceed to apply the facts to Ingram, the existing precedent for compensability of on-call
time. It is not entirely clear whether this decision by each party was a concession that time
Online the Uber App is most analogous to on-call time in other employment contexts, or a
strategic decision, based on this Court’s expressions at prior conferences, that Ingram may be
relevant to this analysis.
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 28 of 31
As the factors themselves demonstrate (e.g., “whether the employee may carry a beeper
or leave home”), Ingram is not readily applicable to an entirely new, app-centered technology in
the new “gig economy.” A judge must tread carefully before establishing any broad rules
relating to a highly successful and popular new technology like Uber, which has drastically
changed the transportation landscape, particularly in large cities such as Philadelphia, where
Uber (and its competitors, such as Lyft) have threatened the value and existence of taxicabs. 8
Legislation or regulatory agency action is better suited to govern the impact of new technology
on daily life activities.
This Court is reluctant to make any definitive legal rulings regarding the compensability
of time spent Online on Uber’s unique technology. This is particularly true given that, based on
the evidence currently in the record, the compensability question may be inextricably intertwined
with the threshold employee versus independent contractor question.
Nevertheless, as the above discussion of the relevant legal precedents reveals, a key
inquiry bearing on compensability under the FLSA is to what extent the employee’s ability to
engage in personal activities is restricted, such that the time is considered “predominantly” for
the benefit of the employer rather than the employee.
In Checker Cab Philadelphia v. Philadelphia Parking Auth., No. CV 16-4669, 2017 WL
2461980, at *1 (E.D. Pa. June 6, 2017), the undersigned recently denied a motion to dismiss
claims brought by over 300 Philadelphia medallion-holding taxi cab operators against the PPA,
alleging, inter alia, that the entry of Uber and Lyft drivers into the for-hire transportation market,
and the PPA’s decision not to regulate them the same as taxicab drivers, amounts to equal
protection and takings clause violations that have had severe economic consequences for taxicab
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 29 of 31
There are four undisputed factual issues which prevent the Court from finding as a matter
of law that Plaintiffs’ time is not compensable (if, and only if, Plaintiffs were found to qualify as
employees under the FLSA):
(1) Drivers have at most 15 seconds to accept a trip request from a rider which, if not
accepted, will be deemed rejected. (Tr. at 11-12).
(2) If a driver does not accept three trip requests in a row, the Uber App automatically
switches the driver from Online to offline. While offline, drivers are not eligible to
accept ride requests. (SOF ¶ 29).
(3) The rider’s destination is not disclosed to the driver until the rider’s trip begins. (SOF
¶ 21). Thus, in considering whether to accept a request, the driver has no knowledge
whether it will be a short ride or very long – which affects driver compensation and
may also restrict personal activities.
(4) Drivers may only advance in the queue at the Airport or 30th Street Train Station if
within a certain zone, and may only accept trip requests at the Airport if inside the
west parking lot. (SOF ¶¶ 36, 39).
The Court is aware that Plaintiffs contend that several additional facts—including almost
all facts relating to the consequences Uber has reserved the right to impose on drivers for failing
to accept, or for cancelling, trip requests—are disputed, and are material to the issue of whether
drivers’ time Online is predominantly for the drivers’ or for Uber’s benefit. In their
supplemental statement of disputed facts, Plaintiffs cite primarily to Uber regulations in which
Uber reserves the right to suspend or deactivate drivers’ accounts if they cancel too many, or
accept too few, trips. 9 However, as Uber points out in its response to Uber’s supplemental
statement of facts (ECF 85), Plaintiffs’ record citations on these facts do not create genuine
disputes of material fact. Plaintiffs have failed to show any instances where these reservations of
right are ever exercised in the Philadelphia area, much less that any reserved consequences have
ever been imposed on Plaintiffs themselves.
See, supra, II.B. at 4-6.
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 30 of 31
Nonetheless, that drivers have only 15 seconds to respond to a given trip request may
reasonably be considered a requirement that drivers are required by Uber to be tethered to their
phones while Online. Similarly, that drivers are automatically switched from Online to offline
after ignoring three trip requests could reasonably be considered a severe restriction on their
ability to engage in personal activities, particularly if drivers are Online during periods when trip
requests are frequent, such that drivers must constantly engage with the Uber App to keep
themselves Online and situated to accept a request. A reasonable juror could also find that
drivers are not meaningfully in control of their time if they are not told the rider’s destination
before accepting a trip. This is particularly true given Uber’s position that no Online time—
other than time spent actually transporting riders—is compensable (Tr. at 18), since a rider’s
destination may take a driver far from where he would want to be for purposes of his personal
activities. Last, the physical restrictions imposed at transportation hubs in Philadelphia could,
for obvious reasons, be considered a literal restriction on drivers’ physical freedoms to pursue
Accordingly, the Court cannot conclude that Plaintiffs’ time Online is not compensable
as a matter of law. Rather, the Court finds, if this issue continues to trial, it should be articulated
on a factual record, with cross-examination and subject to the Rules of Evidence, so that any
final legal decisions can better rest on a trial record, rather than on the dueling papers that are
inherently part of Rule 56 litigation.
The parties must now promptly embark on completing any appropriate discovery on the
issue of whether Plaintiffs are employees or independent contractors under the FLSA. Since
there are many precedents on this issue, the Court anticipates it may be decided by cross-motions
for summary judgment, after any relevant discovery has been completed.
Case 2:16-cv-00573-MMB Document 93 Filed 09/13/17 Page 31 of 31
For the foregoing reasons, Uber’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (ECF 66) will
be DENIED, without prejudice, and with leave to refile at the completion of discovery. Uber’s
Motion to Strike the new portions of Plaintiffs’ Amended Statement of Disputed and Undisputed
Fact (ECF 83) will be GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
An appropriate Order follows.
O:\CIVIL 16\16-573 Razak v Uber Technologies\Memo Re Partial MSJ.docx
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