Uber has been knee-deep in legal battles lately, and recent reports show that the tactics used by its investigative contractor, Ergo, have been anything but aboveboard. This came to light in a recent court battle filed by customer Spencer Meyer against the ridesharing company and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, according to Law360. The class action alleges that Uber participated in a price fixing scheme that violated antitrust laws.
Uber enlisted Ergo to investigate Meyer under the pretense that he may pose a security risk to Kalanick. Ergo not only investigated Meyer, but also investigated his attorney. Critics point out that if Ergo was only investigating Meyer as a security risk to Kalanick, that there would be no need to include Meyer’s lawyer.
Ergo’s counsel claimed that the firm was not aware that its investigation into Meyer was tied to legal action. Even so, the counsel admitted to using underhanded and even illegal tactics to get the dirt on Meyer for Uber. It also admitted that investigators lied and illegally recorded phone calls in the course of their examination of Meyer.
Ultimately, it turns out that Meyer did not have any dirty secrets to uncover; a fact commented on by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff, who said it must have been disappointing to Ergo and Uber, according to Law360. Earlier on, Rakoff dismissed assertions in the case by Kalanick that the class action was a conspiracy involving hundreds of thousands of drivers as “wildly implausible” and “physically impossible,” according to Bloomberg.
Meyer and his attorney are seeking to recover expenses related to bringing Ergo’s investigation to light, and Uber is urging the court to force Meyer to arbitration. Meyer’s lawsuit seeks damages for millions of Uber customers and alleges that the company’s design inherently fixes prices. Meyer asserts that Uber drivers do not compete, but instead charge fares based on Uber’s set algorithm. The drivers, billed as independent contractors, are following rates fixed at Uber’s direction.