Author Archives: Adrianne Jeffries

Are Uber Drivers Employees?

Uber drivers set their own hours, file taxes independently, and often own their cars. They don’t get health insurance from Uber and they don’t wear uniforms. And yet, Uber controls much of what they do by setting prices, handling their tips, and micromanaging them through its driver rating system. Are these drivers independent contractors, working for a strict boss? Or are they employees, entitled to benefits and covered expenses?

A law firm has filed a class action lawsuit against Uber in California on behalf of the state’s drivers, alleging that the company had misclassified them as independent contractors. Uber is going to the mat to defend the status quo, arguing that the class is too large, that drivers want to be independent contractors (which isn’t really material to their classification), and even trying to make itself seem more like Wal-Mart.

The case, O’Connor v. Uber, is going to stretch on for a long, long time. To make sense of it all, we spoke to Sarah Jeong, our contributing editor and resident legal expert, who has been covering this case. Then we chatted in the studio with managing editor Adrianne Jeffries (self-loathing Uber user), staff writer Kaleigh Rogers (technoinnovation optimist), and Motherboard Germany editor Max Hoppenstedt (European perspective). Ever thought about what Germans think of the name Uber? Listen to this week’s Radio Motherboard to find out.

What Have We Learned from the Ebola Outbreak?

It’s now been just over a year and a half of the biggest Ebola outbreak in history. We’ve dabbled in vaccines, but the best prevention method is still abstaining from contact with symptomatic patients, and the best treatment is still basically hydration. We’ve figured out that Ebola survivors seem at least temporarily immune, making them ideal health workers, but we still haven’t perfected treatment protocols and caretakers are still dying from the disease.

This week on Radio Motherboard, we spoke to Kayla Ruble, who covered the outbreak in Liberia for Vice News, and who says we’ve learned that the most effective way to fight Ebola is to be aggressive with the most basic tactics: public awareness, basic sanitation, and working with the local culture instead of against it. We also talked to Mahad Ibrahim, who consulted with the Liberia Ministry of Health & Social Welfare in order to organize information coming out of the outbreak. He says we’ve learned that computers and mobile phones simply don’t work the way they’re intended in a crisis, and it’s better to have local health workers and volunteers take down notes on paper and digitize it later.

We also spoke to Decontee Davis, who contracted the virus almost exactly a year ago. She’s the woman who didn’t have a chance to say goodbye to her fiancé before he died a few wards over. “People are still afraid. Even me, I am afraid,” she said. “If there is a single case, Liberia is still [in] outbreak. Right now, we have up to four cases. People are still afraid.”

“I will be happy when Liberia is completely Ebola free.”

Gawker vs Hulk Hogan

In October 2012, the gossip site Gawker published an edited video of Hulk Hogan having sex. In response, the former pro-wrestler sued the company. It’s now going to court in a case that could have wide-ranging consequences for the First Amendment. Radio Motherboard talks to Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker, and Maria Bustillos, a reporter covering the case.