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Adams v. Postmates, Inc.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division

March 5, 2020, Decided; March 5, 2020, Filed

Case No: 19-3042 SBA

Opinion

ORDER DENYING POSTMATES' MOTION TO STAY PENDING APPEAL

 [*72] Dkt. 261

This matter is presently before the Court on Respondent Postmates, Inc.'s ("Postmates") Motion to Stay Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Cross-Motions Pending Appeal ("Motion to Stay"). Dkt. 261. Having read and considered the papers filed in connection with this matter and being fully informed, the Court hereby DENIES the Motion to Stay for the reasons set forth below.1

I. BACKGROUND

Petitioners are 5,257 individuals who work as "couriers" (i.e., delivery drivers) for Postmates, an entity that operates a food delivery platform and mobile app. To work for Postmates, all couriers must sign Postmates' Fleet Agreement, which classifies them as independent contractors, not employees. The agreement contains a Mutual Arbitration Provision, which requires that all disputes between couriers and Postmates be resolved "through final and binding arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit in court." Fleet Agt. § 10A.2 To initiate an arbitration, either party to the Fleet Agreement must notify the other party by certified mail or by hand delivery of the arbitration demand. The demand must include: "(1) the name and address of the Party seeking arbitration, (2) a statement of the legal and [*73]  factual basis of the claim, and (3) a description of the remedy sought." Id. § 10B.i.

Within the Mutual Arbitration Provision are a Class Action Waiver and Representative Action Waiver. See id. § 10B.ii (Class Action Waiver); id. § 10B.iii (Representative Action Waiver). The Class Action Waiver bars couriers from bringing "any dispute or claim ... as a class and/or collective action" or "participat[ing] in any class and/or collective action...." Id. § 10B.ii. The Representative Action Waiver similarly bars couriers from bringing "any dispute or claim ... as a representative action, ... including but not limited to, claims brought under any state's Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA)...." Id. § 10B.iii.3 The net effect of these waivers is that any courier with a legal claim against Postmates is limited to filing an individual arbitration demand with the designated arbitrator, the American Arbitration Association ("AAA").

In March and April 2019, Petitioners tendered a total of 5,274 individual arbitration demands to the AAA, alleging that they have been misclassified as independent contractors, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 206, 207. Petitioners' submission of these demands triggered Postmates' obligation to tender [*74]  its share of arbitration filing fees, approximately in the sum of $10 million. Postmates refused to pay any fees, claiming that the arbitration demands were insufficient under the terms of the Mutual Arbitration Provision and therefore the arbitrations had not been properly commenced. The AAA disagreed and continued to demand payment of the fees.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38729 *; 2020 WL 1066980

JAMAL ADAMS, et al., Petitioners, vs. POSTMATES, INC., Respondent.

Prior History: Adams v. Postmates, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 215365 (N.D. Cal., Oct. 22, 2019)

CORE TERMS

arbitration, class action, demands, delegation, couriers, pending appeal, filing fee, irreparable injury, irreparable harm, representative action, classwide, merits, compel arbitration, unconscionable, unenforceable, cross-motion, voidable, factors, parties, void