Florida Agency Declares Uber Drivers Are Contractors, Not Employees

December 4, 2015 by Jason C. Taylor, Partner

Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has concluded that Uber drivers are contractors and not employees when addressing the issue of entitlement to unemployment benefits. The decision was a result of two Uber drivers who sought unemployment compensation from the company. At the initial stage, the Florida Department of Revenue determined the drivers were employees. Uber appealed the determination and was successful in obtaining a recommended order reversing the characterization of the drivers as employees following an evidentiary hearing. The DEO subsequently adopted the determination in the recommended order as a final order and denied the exceptions submitted by one of the drivers. In the decision, the DEO recognized the lack of control Uber had over the drivers and instead analogized the platform to a middleman, much like an art gallery operates in relationship to artists.

The decision by Florida’s DEO, while a victory for Uber in the state, conflicts with opposite determinations in California and Oregon. Further, although the ruling is based on Florida case law, it may have no more than a persuasive influence on other jurisdictions, including Florida state and federal courts. However, it does provide insight into the analysis of the issue for employers operating in Florida that may have similar business models.

If you are interested in a copy of the decision, it can be obtained here. Further, if you have any questions about the ruling or the manner in which you are dealing with your contractors or employees, please do not hesitate to contact Jason Taylor.

  Jason C. Taylor, Partner
  (850) 222-8121