There’s no cliché better than a Shakespeare cliché, and no Shakespeare cliché more cliché than referencing Hamlet. Duly noted and ignored. Let’s turn to Uber, the Prince of 555 Market St. in San Francisco. The company has of late been suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (it is currently valued at nearly $70 billion) and has taken arms against a sea of trouble. The ride-share company is currently embattled in litigation concerning intellectual property, invasion of customers’ privacy, securities fraud, antitrust, regulatory issues, race and gender discrimination, sexual harassment and a rear-guard battle from taxicabs—those old-timey transporters that in Shakespeare’s day would have been a guy with a horse and carriage.

We’re also starting to see litigation concerning the status of those who drive for Uber. Are they employees or independent contractors? As those of us in workers’ compensation know, this makes the difference between an injury covered by workers’ compensation and one that is not.  Taxi drivers have traditionally not been viewed as employees of cab companies. As far back as at least 1924, our courts refused to find cab companies were the “master” and drivers the “servant” in the tort context, as in Wright V. A.&S. Wilson, 83 Pa. Super. 487 (Pa. Super. 1924) (“A man does not become answerable for the negligence of a taxi driver, or of a carrier merely by specifying where he wishes to go or to have his property delivered.”).

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