The Uber app on an iPad. (AP/Patrick Semansky)

Proposed class action against Uber can proceed

Plaintiff argues Uber drivers are employees, entitled to a minimum wage, vacation pay and more

A proposed class-action lawsuit against the ride-hailing company Uber filed by one of its drivers will go ahead after Ontario’s top court reversed a lower court decision that would have sent the matter to arbitration overseas.

In a ruling released Wednesday, the Court of Appeal for Ontario says a clause in Uber’s services agreement that requires all disputes to go through arbitration in the Netherlands amounts to illegally outsourcing an employment standard and therefore cannot stand.

READ MORE: B.C. ride hailing regulation battle to carry on into 2019

It further concludes that the clause takes advantage of the significant power and financial disparity between Uber and its drivers, who would bear up to US$14,500 in filing fees just to begin the arbitration process, no matter the amount at stake in the dispute.

“I believe that it can be safely concluded that Uber chose this arbitration clause in order to favour itself and thus take advantage of its drivers, who are clearly vulnerable to the market strength of Uber,” the appeal court said. ”It is a reasonable inference that Uber did so knowingly and intentionally.”

The lawsuit, which claims Uber drivers are employees rather than contractors and thus subject to Ontario’s labour legislation, had been stayed earlier this year by a motion judge who found Uber drivers were bound by the arbitration clause.

The three-judge appeal panel says the motion judge erred on several points, including in considering the arbitration clause like the kind seen in “normal commercial contracts” where the parties are relatively equal in power and sophistication.

A spokesman for Uber Canada says the company will be reviewing the appeal ruling.

The appeal court ruling does not deal with the claims made in the lawsuit, which will be tested in civil court. Nor does it rule on whether the suit qualifies as a class action.

The man behind the suit, David Heller, is a 35-year-old driver for UberEats, a service that calls on drivers to deliver food from restaurants to Uber customers. He argues that Uber drivers are employees, which makes them entitled to a minimum wage, vacation pay and other protections under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Province to pass $1.25-million repair bill for South Surrey overpass on to ICBC

152 Street overpass was struck by overheight truck on Dec. 4, 2017

Ex-Mountie who investigated ‘Surrey six’ murders gets conditional sentence

Derek Brassington pleaded guilty in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday

Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser to support Cloverdale Community Kitchen

Kitchen, emergency weather shelter seeing increased turnout

How fallen Surrey Mountie’s Stetson ended up in Europe puzzles police

Constable Terry Draginda’s hat is repatriated after being found at a flea market in Hamburg, Germany

Surrey social justice activist wins Sher Vancouver’s Youth Leadership Award

Shilpa Narayan says her work is about ‘ensuring a safe space’ for marginalized youth

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered B.C. girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Heavy snowfall expected on the Coquihalla

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, from Hope to Merritt

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Most Read