When you get in an Uber, you hope your driver has showered and the car is not a mess. However, the fact that Uber once told its drivers not to "forget to shower" is now part of a key legal battle that the ride-hailing company faces.
The ride-hailing company suffered a major legal setback on Tuesday when a San Francisco judge ruled that the jobs of Uber drivers in California are similar enough that workers can sue the company as a class.
In a decision granting class action status to the lawsuit, Judge Edward Chen of the U.S. District Court Northern District of California cited Uber's training materials, which included instructions on how to clean the car and how drivers should look, as one example of how Uber exercised a right to control its drivers.
Uber's original argument was that all drivers must attend an onboarding training, but that the content of each session varied widely so drivers could not be analyzed on a classwide basis.
In one San Francisco onboarding script cited in Chen's opinion, drivers are told to "make sure the radio is off or on soft jazz or NPR." Another Uber training manual recommended that there should be no papers in the visor, the front seat should be forward, the rims should be spotless, and drivers should not "forget to shower."
Chen agreed that the content of each training session may have varied, but the argument "misses the point."
"As the California Supreme Court has made clear, whether Uber 'varied in how it exercised control does not answer whether there were variations in its underlying right to exercise that control...'" Chen wrote.
When it comes to the lawsuit, it didn't matter to Chen whether different drivers are told to play classical music or smooth jazz because it "does not determine whether Uber uniformly maintained the right and power to actually monitor and enforce its drivers' compliance with whatever 'requirements' or 'suggestions' Uber gave, regardless of their precise content."
In other words, there was no way Uber could uniformly check that its drivers had showered so it couldn't argue that its drivers were trained in different ways and couldn't be part of a similar class.
This might not be the last we hear about showering or Uber's driver suggestions. Chen only discredited the argument when it comes to class status so it will be up to a jury to decide whether or not their varied training had anything to do with their status as independent contractors. An Uber spokeswoman told Business Insider that the company plans to appeal today's decision on class action status.
More From Business Insider