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.
The lawsuit, which claims Uber drivers are employees rather than contractors and thus subject to Ontario’s labour legislation, had been stayed in 2018 by a motion judge who found Uber drivers were bound by the arbitration clause.
“This decision confirms that employment laws actually matter in Ontario, and that you cannot deprive workers of their legal rights under the Ontario Employment Standards Act by sending them 6,000 km overseas to enforce those rights at exorbitant personal cost,” employment lawyer Lior Samfiru, who represents Heller, said in a statement.
“Legal rights are meaningless if there is no mechanism to enforce those rights. Uber’s contract with its drivers seeks to make the enforceability of rights virtually impossible. The court sent a loud and clear message that this is illegal in Ontario.”