The Ontario court certifies Uber's collective action that some workers could be recognized as workers.
Class action in Canada could have dramatic effects on Uber, lawyer says.
In a class action lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc., the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has issued a warning to seek recognition of some of the platform's Canadian couriers and drivers.
The class suit, certified in a late Thursday afternoon judgment by Justin Pauli Perell, stems from the 2017 filing by the courier David Heller of Samfiru Tumarkin LLP & Uber Eats.
Law firms and class actions on the basis of the definition of employees as per Ontario's Work standards Act, Uber couriers are arguing that they should be entitled to minimum wage, holiday salary and other protections.
Samfiru Tumarkin lawyer Samara Belitzky, working in the Ottawa office of the firm said, "Uber has complete control over these drivers when they work, how they work, what they get paid for the work they do."
"I could go on, but Uber's control over these drivers is so many instances, but the drivers do not have the benefits and safeguards that employees would typically have in situations where the employer is in control."
Uber long declined to recognize couriers and drivers as employees through its platform and has instead associated them with independent contractors because of their flexible driving or delivery.
Since it was brought to court five years ago, the San Francisco technology giant has been fighting the Heller case.
In 2018, the case was successfully stayed, as all disputes were necessary and mediated in the Netherlands, where its company was once incorporated.
Since then Uber has moved from its domicile in the Netherlands into Canada and started in July collecting sales tax to the Government. The ride hailing and food supply company is based in Canada.
In 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal reverted Uber's stay to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it lost afterwards in 2019.
The consequences of class action might be far-reaching.
The certification on Thursday allows the class action again to proceed in Canadian courts, although for other reasons, Uber could appeal the case again.
The company said in a statement, "We shall review the rule more closely in the next few days.
"Wes' focus remains on building a better future with the benefits and protections that app-based workers deserve for their flexibility and independence."
Belitzky said it would be a "landmark decision" when the class action comes with the winning drivers.
"In Canada, there is no such thing. It will certainly be a first for Canada, "She said. - She said.
"This will change the employment landscape, as many of these companies, including Uber, have so far been able to avoid misclassifying their drivers, so that they can essentially reap all the benefits now."
Critics say that they skirt Canada's labor law.
In the past few months, Uber has pushed a labor model in Canada named Flexible Work+.
The model proposed to provinces requires app-based gig entrepreneurs to generate self-allocated benefit financing, which can be distributed to prescription drivers, dental and visionary care, and provide security training and instruments, such as reflective jackets.
In the October survey, over 600 couriers and drivers in Canada showed 65% of Flexible Work + favourites. Uber says that it is following the models. Roughly 16% still wanted to be classified as employees with benefits as the existing independent contractor model and 18%.
But many gig workers, labor groups and lawyers fight against this proposal because they say it allows Uber to continue unfairly treating couriers and drivers, keeping them in a precarious state.
President Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labor Congress, has welcomed the judgment and said that all workers should have safety and benefits in the workplace.
She said in a release that, "Uber has for far too long dictated working conditions, but has not been responsible for providing a minimum wage and holiday pay.'
"Labor law — law — applies to all businesses. Canadian unions support the decision to certify this class action and invite coast-to-coast drivers to join forces and collectively negotiate their rights."