Uber gambled on driver arbitration and might have come up the loser

For Uber Technologies Inc., using legal arbitration to deal with driver compensation complaints — over anything from pay to overtime to mileage reimbursement — seemed like the smart play: It would preclude costly class-action litigation, it was private and few drivers would go to the trouble.

That may have been a giant miscalculation.

As the ride-hailing titan prepares to go public this week, in a listing that could value Uber at almost $84 billion, the number of U.S. drivers who have filed arbitration demands against Uber has swelled to more than 60,000, according to the company’s prospectus. The figure surprised legal experts, who said resolving that many cases would take decades and cost Uber at least $600 million — with no end in sight.

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