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Uber employee in France wins case to be regarded as employee

In a setback to Uber in France, an appeals court in the country, on March 4, decided that an Uber driver should be classified as an employee, Le Monde reports. The judgement noted that “Drivers who use the Uber application do not build up their own clientele, do not freely set their rates, and do not determine the terms and conditions of providing their transportation service. The company imposes the itinerary and the driver’s fare is adjusted if this itinerary is not followed. The destination is unknown to the driver, thereby revealing that the driver cannot freely choose the route that suits [them].”

150 drivers in France are pursuing similar legislation, according to Le Monde, and this decision by the top court could get them all to succeed in their attempts at being reclassified as employees.

In California, the state government passed a bill last September, that would require workers for companies like Uber to be reclassified as employees. Uber, Lyft and DoorDash, the biggest cab aggregators in the US, said they would not do so, forming a $90 million fund to fight the bill legally.

Are gig workers employees?

The ruling in France has good precedent; in November 2018, Take Eat Easy, a food delivery app, had a similar judgement handed down on it. After the company went bankrupt, ex-delivery agents for the startup won thousands of euros in severance pay. The Uber judgement on Wednesday is far more meaningful — it reclassified a current Uber worker (who sued because the company had suspended him) as an employee, potentially opening the floodgates for several others.

Uber, in a statement said that “This judgement does not reflect why drivers choose Uber”. It added, “This ruling will not lead to an immediate and automatic reclassification of all drivers using our application”.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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