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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sign of spring: Salmon Arm’s steep Shoemaker Hill opens to traffic

Opening delayed by snow and freezing temperatures

20th anniversary of Shuswap’s Salty Dog Enduro postponed to 2021

Organizers follow direction from provincial/national bodies to cancel May event

West Kelowna man charged in relation to cannabis grow robbery in Sicamous

Two suspects remain at large; police believe they left the robbery scene in a white hatchback

Would-be visitors to Shuswap over the long weekend asked to stay home

Regional district follows provincial health officer’s lead in telling citizens to stay put this Easter

Warm temperatures bring welcome news for Salmon Arm residents who use public washrooms

City plans to open remaining washrooms, playgrounds to remain closed

VIDEO: B.C. singer creates frontline workers tribute song

Cambree Lovesy’s song saluting those battling COVID-19 draws interest online

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

Unemployment up, Kelowna loses 2,000 jobs in March: StatCan

March unemployment rate 5.9 per cent, highest in Kelowna since January 2018

Peachland residents living in lockdown in central Philippines

Kevin and Gracelyn Bennett have been in the Philippines since December

Kelowna toddler officially cancer-free

Elara Isagawa’s family is thanking the community for their support throughout her treatment

Law enforcement will patrol shuttered campgrounds in Cascades this weekend

Patrols will enforce provincial order requiring all such facilities remain closed during COVID-19

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

Campfires still permitted in Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen

Restrictions have been implemented elsewhere within valley

Summerland parks remain open for passive use

Users urged to maintain physical distancing to slow spread of COVID-19

Most Read