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Judge grants California Uber drivers class action status in lawsuit

There could be a rocky road ahead for the company

A US District Judge in San Francisco has ruled that a lawsuit brought by Uber drivers may continue as a class action, throwing Uber into an uncertain future as it argues its drivers are not employees of the company.

The case will proceed to a jury

The lawsuit focuses on whether Uber's arrangement with drivers in California violates the state's labor laws, with drivers in the case arguing that they should be reimbursed for driving expenses and loss of tips. The case could become one of the most high-profile moments in the long-running debate over whether Uber drivers are "employees" — with all of the legal benefits the title grants — or, as Uber claims, merely "independent contractors" who work through Uber's system.

Today's ruling put some exceptions on the number of drivers who could be a part of the suit, but the class's case will still eventually proceed to a jury, where the outcome could set some precedent for similar cases in other states across the country. If it does, Uber could be looking at damage to its bottom line when it's forced to pay expenses. An Uber spokesperson told The Verge the company will "most likely appeal the decision."

In June, drivers seeking employee status took home a legal win after the California Labor Commission found that one driver was an employee, as Uber was "involved in every aspect of the operation."

Update September 1st, 6:01PM ET: Updated to include information from an Uber spokesperson.

Correction September 1st, 7:31PM ET: An earlier version of this article stated Uber still must face the "majority" of drivers from the suit. It's not clear precisely how many will be excluded.