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Uber in more bother with regulators as California fines it $7.6M

Uber’s been hit with a $7.6 million fine by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for failing to report data on its drivers back in 2014.

The ride-hailing company told the LA Times it intends to pay the fine but will still appeal the decision. Not paying would’ve resulted in its service being suspended in its home state of California.

The CPUC accused Uber of withholding data on:

  • how many times customers requested accessible vehicles and how often the company provided one,
  • the number of requested and accepted rides broken down by zip code, and
  • the number and cause of driver-related incidents.

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Following a related court hearing last year, Uber complained that providing more detailed information about its app-based service risked “compromising the privacy of individual riders as well as driver-partners.” It added that the CPUC’s requests were “beyond the remit of the commission and will not improve public safety.”

The commission insists that submission of driver data is important for determining if Uber – as well as regular taxi firms who already observe the rule – is properly serving passengers. Uber rival Lyft, the LA Times points out, has been complying with the regulation, while Uber has also started supplying the requested data.

Coming up against regulators is par for the course for Uber. The service comes under scrutiny pretty much everywhere it sets up, with many disputes focusing on whether the company should face the same regulations as the traditional taxi industry.

Class-action concern

San Francisco-based Uber also has another fight on its hands in its home state after a judge last September granted class-action status to a lawsuit calling for the company to recognize its drivers as full-fledged employees rather than as independent contractors as it currently does.

While the original claim was brought by just three Uber drivers, the acquired class-action status means the suit could cover around 160,000 California drivers.

Classifying its drivers as independent contractors has allowed the company to grow at speed. As things stand, Uber doesn’t need to concern itself with things like Social Security, unemployment insurance, and workers’ compensation for its drivers – or pay for vehicle running costs – a system that  allows it to save large amounts of money for subsequent investment.