Skip to main content


– Singh v. Uber Techs., Inc., 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 10931 (3d Cir. April 26, 2023) (Scirica, C.J.)., vacated 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS 11358 (May 4, 2023). The Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) compels federal courts to enforce a wide range of arbitration agreements. But it does not apply to arbitration agreements contained in the “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” 9 U.S.C. § 1. These consolidated appeals ask us to decide whether Uber drivers belong to such a class of workers. We conclude, as have our sister circuits, that they do not. The work of Uber drivers is centered on local transportation. Most Uber drivers have never made a single interstate trip. When Uber drivers do cross state lines, they do so only incidentally, as part of Uber’s fundamentally local transportation business. As a result, they are not “engaged in foreign or interstate commerce” for the purposes of § 1 of the FAA. The District Court reached this conclusion in a detailed and carefully reasoned opinion. We will affirm. The District Court compelled arbitration in a thorough and well-reasoned opinion. A class of workers that does not regularly cross state lines will qualify if their work is “so closely related” to interstate commerce “as to be in practical effect part of it.” Singh, 939 F.3d at 220 (quoting Tenney, 207 F.2d at 452). Work meets this standard if it is a “constituent part” of the interstate movement of goods or people rather than a “part of an independent and contingent intrastate transaction.” Immediato v. Postmates, Inc., 54 F.4th 67, 77 (1st Cir. 2022) (citing Cunningham, 17 F.4th at 251). It is not always easy to tell whether work is a “constituent part” of the flow of interstate commerce or occurs outside of it. See Immediato, 54 F.4th at 79 (observing that “[i]t may be possible that goods can change hands several times during transport without exiting the flow of interstate commerce” and that a class of workers need not be “employed by a company of any particular size or geographic scope”). Our analysis focuses on “practical, economic continuity.” Osvatics, 535 F. Supp. 3d at 18-19 (quotation marks omitted) (quoting Gulf Oil Corp. v. Copp Paving Co., 419 U.S. 186, 195, 95 S. Ct. 392, 42 L. Ed. 2d 378 (1974)). Plaintiffs argue along various lines to reach the conclusion that even a trivial amount of interstate transportation work suffices to bring a worker within the exception. This conclusion must be rejected. It is contrary to the principles described above and would contravene the basic policy of the FAA, which is to broadly place arbitration agreements on equal footing with other contracts. See Circuit City, 532 U.S. at 115, 118-19. Plaintiffs’ interpretation would cover even “a pizza delivery person who delivered pizza across state lines to a customer in a neighboring town.” Hill v. Rent-A-Center, Inc., 398 F.3d 1286, 1290 (11th Cir. 2005). There is no evidence to suggest that Congress meant to cover such workers. See Wallace, 970 F.3d at 802-03; Immediato, 54 F.4th at 77-78; Archer v. Grubhub, Inc., 490 Mass. 352, 190 N.E.3d 1024, 1031-33 (Mass. 2022). Congress’ use of the enumerated categories of “seamen” and “railroad employees,” when coupled with the narrow construction due the exception, convinces us that the residual clause includes only those workers whose jobs are centered on interstate commerce. We now turn to the key question: Is engagement with interstate commerce central to the work of Uber drivers? The District Court found that it was not. We agree. As a class, Uber drivers are in the business of providing local rides that sometimes—as a happenstance of geography—cross state borders. Remove interstate commerce from the equation, and the work of Uber drivers remains fundamentally the same. Plaintiffs have not shown that drivers’ infrequent interstate trips are, on the whole, an essential part of their job. Indeed, their statistics demonstrate that most Uber drivers have never made a single interstate trip. Neither have Plaintiffs shown that drivers’ intrastate duties, such as driving riders to and from airports, are a “constituent part” of the interstate movement of goods or people. Immediato, 54 F.4th at 77. As a result, we conclude that Uber drivers are not a class of workers engaged in interstate commerce and, accordingly, that they do not fall under the § 1 exception. Plaintiffs’ evidence that Uber organizes drivers into multistate “territories” based on where they live and does not allow drivers to opt out of interstate trips shows that Uber anticipates at least some drivers crossing state lines. It does not demonstrate, however, that interstate trips are essential to drivers’ activities. Finally, we reject Plaintiffs’ argument that drivers who ferry passengers to and from airports are part of an integrated interstate transport effort. Plaintiffs point out that Uber has agreements with major airports authorizing drivers to drop off and pick up passengers at terminals. They also argue that airport trips are so closely related to interstate commerce as to bring rideshare drivers within the ambit of § 1. They connect these arguments to the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Yellow Cab Co., which found that certain station-to-station taxi rides implicated interstate commerce. See 332 U.S. at 228-29.