Remember that time when taxi drivers protested against Uber by going on strike (bad idea). Well now Uber's drivers are beginning to realise they actually share something in common with cabbies. Being left without a job.
We aren't talking about Uber replacing their drivers with autonomous driver robots (yet). No, they are doing it the old fashioned way, terminating without notice. As a result, an ex-Uber driver has decided to commence proceedings against Uber alleging they breached their contract by failing to pass on negative feedback prior to termination.
The case raises so many questions. Like who owns your rating and review data? It's pretty much the new credit rating. What about lending laws allowing Uber drivers with bad or no credit history being able to get loans for business purposes, which are not covered by consumer credit rules?
As more of these cases pop up in Australia, Uber will be trying to dodge one question in particular are drivers employees or contractors? We've already discussed how the Australian legal system makes the distinction. In the US, drivers brought a class action claiming they were employees. Uber would crumble if their drivers were classed as employees. Probs why they chose to settle for $100 million (saving them a possible $1 billion).
In Australia, drivers could take Uber to the Fair Work Commission alleging unfair dismissal (as an employee) to determine this once and for all. We don't like their chances. Drivers could also have a crack in the Federal Court under the "sham contracting" provisions in the Fair Work Act (not to mention the unfair contract provisions in the Independent Contractors Act too!). Come November the unfair contract provisions for small businesses in the Australian Consumer Law will kick in too.
To complicate things further, Uber's driver agreement contains a unilateral arbitration clause which would send drivers with a dispute to Amsterdam for arbitration under Dutch law. We think consumers are safe, but what about the drivers? Dutch chocolate is great but we aren't so sure Courts will be happy with Dutch law governing these relationships. Yep, this story is the law nerd equivalent of a destruction derby. Hmmm, if only all Uber disputes could be solved that way.