UberEats driver David Heller filed a class action suit, challenged by Uber Technologies Inc, intending to secure a minimum wage, vacation pay, and other benefits like overtime pay. Drivers are now classified as independent contractors and do not have such advantages.
Heller’s attorney stated the decision enabling him to sue was important, but only a small first step in a case that can take years to litigate.
The ride-hailing company’s contract enables arbitration, but not class-action lawsuits. After the ruling, an Uber spokeswoman stated the company would amend its contracts “to align with the court’s principles,” without providing details.
“Going forward, dispute resolution will be more accessible to drivers,” the spokeswoman stated.
California has recently said it plans to ask a state court judge to force Uber and Lyft Inc to categorize their ride-hail drivers as employees instead of contractors.
Canada’s 8-1 Supreme Court ruling dismisses an Uber appeal to an Ontario high court ruling that stated the company’s arbitration clause breaches provincial labor rules and is “invalid and unenforceable”.
The arbitration process, which must be carried out in the Netherlands where Uber has its international headquarters, costs about C$19,000 ($14,500). Heller earned between C$21,000 ($15,436) and C$31,000 ($22,786) annually.
“This was access to justice case,” said Michael Wright, one of Heller’s lawyers. The court particularly ruled that “a stronger party was taking advantage of a weaker party in an unfair manner,” said Wright.
Now Heller can resume his class-action suit, Wright said, but the matter is not going to be settled anytime soon.
“This is the first round in a series of rounds,” stated Wright, a labor and employment lawyer with Wright Henry LLP in Toronto, adding that it could take “a few more years.”