Supreme Court of Canada Rules in Favor of Uber Drivers in Gig Economy Case

The Supreme Court of Canada has cleared the way for Uber drivers to take the next step in their fight to be recognized as employees.

According to a new report from CBC, the high court has ruled that Uber drivers can settle disputes with the company in Canadian courts instead of through costly arbitration overseas, a decision that opens the door for lawsuits against Uber and potentially more driver protections.

In an eight-to-one decision released Friday morning, the Supreme Court said a clause in Uber’s services agreement that requires all disputes to go through arbitration in the Netherlands amounted to illegally outsourcing an employment standard.

“The arbitration clause [is] unconscionable, based on the inequality of bargaining power between the parties and the improvident cost of arbitration,” the court said.

Uber had challenged an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that found the company’s contract clause, which relies on a costly arbitration process in the Netherlands to settle disputes, was “unconscionable” and “unenforceable,” explains Reuters.

This court case was started by Toronto Uber Eats driver David Heller, who tried to launch a class action lawsuit against the company for violating employment standards law.

A justice who sided with Heller said that the arbitration agreement with Uber effectively bars him from accessing a legally determined dispute resolution, imposing undue hardship on Heller and undermining the rule of law.

“A court should not refer a challenge to an arbitrator’s jurisdiction to the arbitrator if there is a real prospect that doing so would result in the challenge never being resolved,” the judges wrote.