Uber, which has famously been in controversial battles with taxi unions, drivers and regulators all over the world, suffered a major blow right in its home state, as an administrative judge recommended a $7.3 million fine against the ride-sharing company along with a possible suspension from operating in California.
The California Public Utilities Commission's Chief administrative law judge Karen Clopton said that the fine was due to Uber's non-compliance with laws of the state that were designed to make sure that drivers carry out transportation services fairly to all their passengers, without any regard of who the passengers are and the place where they lived.
According to Clopton, the refusal of Uber to provide this data violates the law, signed in 2013, which legalized ride-sharing companies in the state.
"They had a year to comply with these regulations, and didn't do it," said Constance Gordon, a spokeswoman for the CPUC. Clopton said that her proposed suspension of Uber in California will last until the company fully complies with the requirements as set out in the state law.
The requirements that are needed for Uber to disclose include how many ride requests its drivers accepted and completed for passengers with wheelchairs or service animals, along with ride information such as the time and date of a ride, the zip code that the route covered, and the fare that was paid.
Uber said that the company will appeal the decision. The enforcement of the fine and suspension will depend on the result of the appeal, a process that could take up several months to complete.
The company said that it has already provided a significant amount of information to the CPUC, but going further will put risks on the privacy of its customers and drivers.
Uber will not be affected much by a $7.3 million fine, as the ride-sharing company has been able to raise an amount of $5.9 billion in venture capital investments. The proposed suspension, however, is an entirely different matter.
If Uber would be suspended in its home state, it will not bode well for the international troubles that the company is currently facing across 300 cities in six continents.
As such, UCLA Lewis Center and Institute of Transportation Studies associate director Juan Matute believes that Uber will pay the fine and comply with the requirement.
"It's not a market they would want to jeopardize their existence in over not handing over some spreadsheets," Matute said.
Rivals Lyft and Sidecar were able to send in the required information to the CPUC by September 2014, which is the deadline that was set for the requirement. Uber was able to provide a report to the CPUC, but not all the required information was disclosed.