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Canada: Ontario court certifies class action against Uber that could see some workers recognised as employees

"Ontario court certifies class action against Uber that could see some workers recognized as employees", 13 Aug 2021

Ontario's Superior Court of Justice has certified a class-action lawsuit against Uber Technologies Inc., which advances a fight to get some of the platform's Canadian couriers and drivers recognized as employees.

The class action, certified by Justin Paul Perell in a decision released late Thursday afternoon, stems from a court filing made by Samfiru Tumarkin LLP and Uber Eats courier David Heller in 2017.

The law firm and the Ontario man's class action argues that Uber couriers should be entitled to minimum wage, vacation pay and other protections because they meet the definition of employees under Ontario's Employment Standards Act.

"Uber has complete control over these drivers, when they work, how they work, what they get paid for the work that they do," said Samfiru Tumarkin lawyer Samara Belitzky...

Uber has long refused to recognize couriers and drivers using its platform as employees and instead likened them to independent contractors because they have the flexibility to drive or deliver as little or as much as they want.

The San Francisco-based technology giant has been fighting the Heller case since it was brought to court five years ago.

It succeeded in getting the case stayed in 2018 because it required all disputes it is involved in go through mediation in the Netherlands, where its business was once incorporated...

In 2019, the Ontario Court of Appeal reversed the stay Uber obtained, so the company took its arguments to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it lost later that year.

Thursday's certification allows the class action to proceed through Canadian courts again, though Uber could appeal the case again on other grounds.

"We'll review the ruling more closely in the coming days," the company said in a statement...

If the class action winds up with the drivers winning, Belitzky said it will be a "landmark decision."...