Uber has been battling a raft of lawsuits around the world.
In February, Uber lost a court challenge against a 2015 Australian Taxation Office decision that forced drivers to be registered to pay goods and services tax. The company argued its drivers didn’t need to be registered because they weren’t taxi operators. However, the court found Uber could be designated as a taxi service. Last year, Northern Territory banned Uber after refusing to change the law to accommodate the app’s legality.
In June 2015, California’s Labour Commission ruled Uber driver Barbara Berwick was an employee and not an independent contractor. The company had argued it did not dictate driver hours and only provided the app to connect drivers and passengers. In 2016, Uber agreed to pay up to US$100 million to settle a class-action lawsuit, allowing it to keep its Californian and Massachusetts drivers as independent contractors. The company pulled out of Austin, Texas, last year after being told to fingerprint and background-check all drivers.
In March 2017, Uber drivers in Ontario launched a class-action lawsuit against the company asking the court to find they are employees, not independent contractors. Ride-share apps are not legal in Vancouver.
In October 2016, the Central London Employment Tribunal ruled Uber drivers were employees, not contractors, meaning they would qualify for the minimum wage, paid time off and other conditions. In April, Uber was granted the right to appeal.
In June 2016, a French court fined Uber and two of its executives for running an illegal transport service with non-professional drivers in the first such criminal case in Europe. Uber was ordered to pay €800,000, but half the fine was suspended.
In April 2017, a Rome judge ruled in favour of Italy’s major taxi companies, saying Uber services amounted to unfair competition, effectively banning them from operating there.
In May 2017, the European Union’s Advocate General announced Uber was primarily a transport company, rather than an intermediary between passengers and drivers, and was obliged to hold the same licences and permits as taxi providers.
Uber was bought out by a competitor in September 2016 after sustaining big losses.
In 2016, traffic police in Cape Town impounded more than 300 Uber cars because drivers did not have metered taxi permits.
This article was first published in the July 8, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.