Can Uber drivers sue their employer? The Supreme Court of Canada released a judgment ruling in favor of Uber drivers and their ability to sue Uber in Court in Canada.
When a driver signed up online to be an Uber driver in Canada, they agreed to a long, complicated contract that included settling any disputes with Uber in an expensive arbitration process in the Netherlands. The cost to commence that process was $14,500 USD in upfront fees (even for a small dispute) and the proceedings would take place in the Netherlands. The cost did not include legal fees, travel, or accommodation. The driver earned less than $14,500 USD a year as an Uber driver.
The Court held that this was not fair to the driver because there was unequal bargaining power between the driver and Uber, who wrote the contract and left no room to negotiate its terms. The driver was thus permitted to commence his claim against Uber in the Canadian Courts but it took many years and thousands of dollars to obtain that permission.
Why This Matters
This is important for Kamloops to take note of, as we have a new rideshare company that began operations on July 1 called Kabu. Being a Kabu driver is a popular income subsidy for people who have a car and may not be working regular 9-5 jobs. Students and retirees often find this work enjoyable and a great way to earn extra money.
Unlike Uber, Kabu is a BC Company and offers its drivers a benefits package tantamount to being an employee. Also, the profit the drivers retain is stated to be 80%.
On the Kabu App, you can sign up to be a driver or set up an account to use the services. Similarly to Uber, there is a standard form contract to sign that limits your rights as a passenger or a driver that you need to be aware of in case of a dispute with Kabu.
The Contract says that in the event of a dispute, it must be dealt with by arbitration in Vancouver, BC. It goes on to say that even if the arbitration converts to court action, trial by jury is prohibited. Commencing an Arbitration in Vancouver can cost from $500 to $3000 in upfront fees and so it is still very expensive and that cost does not cover legal advice or representation, travel, accommodation, cost of the arbitrator, and facility fees. The total cost of arbitration is thousands of dollars. This is important to know what is required in the event you have a dispute with Kabu as a driver or customer.
What all of this means is that it is very important to read all of the paragraphs of a contract before agreeing to its terms, particularly a standard form online contract that governs a person’s rights during their employment.
When in Doubt, Contact a Lawyer
If there are portions that are unclear, it is worth spending the time to see a lawyer and have the terms of the contract explained to you so you are aware of any potential consequences or limitations that will affect you in the future. A little foresight can save you a lot of headaches down the road.