A recent ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has ruled that a class action lawsuit against Uber Technologies may proceed (case cited as Uber Technologies Inc. v Heller, 2020 SCC 16).
The main points in this case were the arbitration clause that Uber makes mandatory when signing up for their app and platform. The clause limits all challenges to the agreement to arbitration in the Netherlands. Further, an administrative cost and filing fees would amount to $14,500 USD. The travel and costs, therefore, were deemed prohibitively expensive, especially given the earnings of Uber drivers in general. The majority in the SCC, therefore, ruled that the arbitration clause was invalid due to the unconscionability doctrine. Specifically, Uber drivers that are dependent on the Uber Application are at a disadvantage in bargaining power, as they are forced to accept a clause that effectively renders the entire contract unchallengeable. To willfully accept this would be unconscionable.
The class action lawsuit against Uber – whether Uber drivers are employees under the Employment Standards Act (2000) will proceed. If successful, Uber drivers that meet the requirements of being employees will be entitled to vacation pay, minimum wage, overtime, and other standards as per the Employment Standards Act. Back-pay would be applicable here.
Given the prevalence of the ‘gig-economy’ and dependence individuals have on such jobs for their livelihoods, the outcome of the proceeding class action suit will have broader implications. The principles applied to the Uber case will also be applicable to many other jobs in the ‘gig economy’ and, henceforth, as to whether many other workers are entitled to benefits provided by employment legislation.
With years of experience in this ever-changing area of employment law, we at Whitten & Lublin are happy to provide insight and advice into your specific work situation. If you’re looking for employment lawyers and would like more information about what Whitten & Lublin can do for you, please contact us online or by phone at (416) 640-2667 today.