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

Fernie skier braves extremes to find ‘soul line’

Caleb Brown named male champion at backcountry ski competition

Avalanche warning issued for Lizard Range, Flathead near Fernie

Warmer weather to increase avalanche risk: Avalanche Canada

Replacement school for Fernie imminent: SD5

School district board chair confident capital funding to follow maintenance project announcement

Teck to address air emission issues at Sparwood mine

Poorly performing dust collection system blamed for exceedances at Elkview Operations

WorkSafeBC close to completing ammonia inspections after Fernie arena tragedy

Statutory agency inspects ammonia-based fish processing facilities, follows up outstanding orders

B.C. resident baffled about welcome mat theft

Security footage shows a woman and her dog taking the mat from the property on March 13

Elkford woman wins national curling award

Terry Vandale hailed as a champion of curling; credited with making the sport more accessible

Carfentanil found in 15% of overdose deaths in January: B.C. coroner

Carfentanil is 100 times more powerful than illicit fentanyl and used to tranquilize elephants

B.C. father fights for his life after flu turns into paralyzing condition

Reisig has lost all motor skills with the exception of slight head, shoulder and face movements.

B.C. wildfire prevention budget bulked up as dry spring unfolds

Night vision goggles tested for early detection effort

Vernon ordered to reinstate terminated firefighters caught having sex at work

City believes arbitration board erred, exploring options

Dozens of B.C. temperature records smashed as spring brings early warmth

Squamish Airport was the hottest spot in all of Canada on Monday

Hackers seek holes in B.C. Hydro power grid, auditor says

System meets standards, but local outages still a concern

B.C. RCMP stop cyclist with no helmet, find out he’s wanted for murder

Kyle Antonio Dias, 19, to face second-degree murder charge in Toronto

Most Read