Jessica Karmasek May 27, 2016, 9:40am


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - A Boston-area plaintiffs attorney who has been targeting start-ups, most notably the popular online transportation company Uber, has at least five more class action lawsuits pending against similar ventures in federal courts - including one against a company that has since gone bankrupt.

According to a recent search of PACER, an online service that provides access to federal court documents, Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan PC has filed class action lawsuits against Homejoy Inc., Postmates Inc., Lyft Inc., Handy Technologies Inc. and Grubhub Inc. over the last year.

Liss-Riordan, one of the nation’s top plaintiffs’ class action employment lawyers, most likely is looking to settle with the companies, as she did with Uber last month.

The Uber deal is worth more than $84 million and was a must for Liss-Riordan. Not settling would have killed her business model, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.

“If we chose not to settle this case, we faced risks,” she told the newspaper.

“We faced the risk that a jury in San Francisco (where Uber is everywhere and quite popular) may not side with the drivers over Uber.”

The San Francisco-based company allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request that is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars.

The class action alleged that Uber misclassified its drivers as independent contractors, meaning they wouldn’t qualify for certain benefits and labor protections.

Liss-Riordan, who will earn $25 million in fees from the Uber settlement, has made nearly identical allegations against the other startups:

* In Iglesias v. Homej oy, it is alleged that Homejoy -- a housecleaning service that offered customers the ability to request a cleaner on a mobile phone application or online through its website -- misclassified cleaners as independent contractors in violation of the federal Fair Labor Standard Act. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in March 2015, has been stayed in light of Homejoy’s bankruptcy filing.

* In Singer v. Postmates, it is alleged that Postmates -- a delivery service that provides couriers who can be hailed and dispatched through a mobile phone application to deliver food and other items to customers at their homes and businesses -- misclassified couriers as independent contractors in violation of the FLSA. The lawsuit, also filed in the Northern District of California in March 2015, has been stayed pending mediation.

* In Bekele v. Lyft, it is alleged that Lyft -- a service similar to Uber -- misclassified drivers as independent contractors. The lawsuit was originally filed in a Massachusetts court in January 2015, but Lyft had the action removed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in April 2015. Lyft is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit. Judge F. Dennis Saylor has scheduled a hearing on the company’s motion for July.

* In Emmanuel v. Handy, it is alleged that Handy -- a service similar to Homejoy -- misclassified cleaners as independent contractors in violation of the FLSA. The action was filed in the District of Massachusetts in July 2015. Handy has filed a motion to compel arbitration.

* In Tan v. Grubhub, it is alleged that Grubhub -- an online and mobile food-ordering company -- misclassified its drivers as independent contractors. The lawsuit was originally filed in a California court in September 2015, but Grubhub had the action removed to the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, in November 2015. The company has filed a motion to dismiss the second amended complaint. Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley has scheduled a hearing on the motion for July.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

Organizations in this Story

Lichten & Liss-Riordan
729 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116

Uber Technologies, Inc.
1455 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103

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