LONDON – A British tribunal has ruled that Uber drivers should be considered employees, not independent contractors, and are therefore entitled to paid vacation time and a minimum wage.
The decision is subject to appeal, which Uber says it will file. But if upheld, it could increase the operating costs for the ride-hailing service and encourage more legal action.
The company has run into resistance in many countries in the past, from both regulators and taxi associations. Some have questioned how well it carries out background checks on its drivers and others challenged the legality of using drivers without licenses.
Here’s a look at some issues Uber has faced around the world.
The country banned Uber’s low-cost UberPop service, in which the drivers do not possess a taxi license, in 2014. Taxi drivers have protested, often violently, against the continued use of the regular Uber service. In June, a French court convicted and fined Uber and two of its executives for deceptive commercial practices and illegal business activity as UberPop continued its activities for months after being banned.
– A federal appeals court said in September that Uber drivers for the most part have to resolve claims against the company individually and not through a class action lawsuit. The ruling came in a lawsuit by Uber drivers over the company’s background checks, but it also affects drivers in a separate suit who accuse the ride-hailing service of exploiting them by treating them as independent contractors instead of employees.
– In August, a federal judge rejected Uber’s attempt to settle claims by drivers that the company had been exploiting them by treating them as independent contractors instead of employees. The settlement would have given $100 million to about 380,000 drivers.
– In April 2015, an Uber driver with a concealed-carry permit shot a 22-year-old man who had opened fire on a group of pedestrians in Chicago. Court records say the man was shooting at pedestrians who were walking in front of the Uber driver’s vehicle, and the driver shot the gunman. The driver wasn’t charged, as prosecutors said he acted in defence of himself and others. In June 2015, Uber banned its drivers and passengers from carrying guns
Uber in September agreed to sell its China operations to local rival Didi Chuxing, in return for a 20 per cent stake in Didi.
In January 2015, the Chinese government had banned drivers of private cars from offering their services through taxi-hailing apps. It then allowed them under new rules. In the spring, police raided Uber offices, seizing thousands of iPhones and other equipment used to run the business. The city’s transport commission said it suspected Uber was operating an illegal taxi service without a proper business registration.
New Delhi banned the service temporarily in late 2014 after one of its drivers was found guilty raping a passenger. Uber was found to have failed to carry out proper background checks on the drivers it hired. The service was restored in June 2015.
A German court in 2015 banned Uber from offering its UberPop service nationwide. The ruling by a state court stems from a suit brought by a German taxi association.
Dutch prosecutors last year raided the Amsterdam offices of Uber, seizing records as part of an investigation into the UberPop service. Prosecutors said Uber was suspected of breaching a Dutch taxi law with its UberPop app, which a court in 2014 had ruled was illegal.
A judge in 2014 ordered a halt to Uber services in Spain, saying they represented unfair competition. The Madrid commercial court judge said Uber drivers lacked proper permits to transport passengers. In March, Uber launched a new ride service in Madrid, called UberX, which matches riders with licensed professional drivers. They are not authorized to pick up fares on the street like taxis do.
Taxi drivers have repeatedly protested against Uber to demand that Mexico City authorities ban the ride service. The drivers said that Uber and other ride-sharing services evade the tax, registration and safety laws that regular cabs are subject to. Uber responded by offering Mexico City commuters free rides for a day, with hashtags that roughly translate as “If Mexico won’t stop, Uber won’t stop.”