Legal

Uber Faces Lawsuit By British Drivers

Uber Faces Lawsuit By British Drivers

A group of Uber drivers in England have filed suit against the ride-hailing company for its alleged failure to provide access to data and an explanation of algorithmic management.

The lawsuit by the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU), a U.K.-based group, was filed in the District Court of Amsterdam, where Uber's European headquarters is located. According to the 10-page complaint, by not providing the information, Uber is in violation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which regulates privacy protection in the 28-nation bloc.

The drivers, who are from London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow, are demanding the right for their data to be sent directly to their union for purposes of collective bargaining. They are asking the court to order Uber to comply with the data protection law or be fined 10,000 euros ($11,443) for each day it continues to violate the law. 

“Drivers must have full transparency over algorithmic management and complete access to their data so they can build real collective bargaining power in their union,” said Azeem Hanif, chair of ADCU, in a statement. “Once again, Uber is flouting the law and exploiting low-paid workers.” 

The complaint argues that Uber has not provided complete access to its personal data or sufficient information on the automated decision-making and profiling that takes place in the Uber Driver app and other systems used by the company. 

The union will also make the case that Uber drivers are subject to performance monitoring at work, and will show evidence of how the company has “tagged” driver profiles accordingly, with categories such as late arrivals, missed rides, canceled riders and inappropriate behavior. 

Uber has insisted that drivers are self-employed and not subject to management control.

ADCU has launched a CrowdJustice campaign and is appealing to all U.K.- and EU-area Uber drivers and Uber Eats couriers to join collective action to demand their data. 

The lawsuit comes one day before ADCU faces Uber in the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court as Uber appeals the 2016 landmark worker rights ruling.

Uber lawyers have their hands full. Last month, attorneys for the state of California said they plan to ask a judge to order Uber and Lyft to classify their ride-hailing drivers as employees rather than contractors. A hearing is set for Aug. 6. 

In response, Uber said most drivers prefer independence working as contractors. The company said more than 158,000 Uber drivers in California would lose work if the reclassification happens.

In March, Uber filed a federal lawsuit against the Los Angeles Department of Transportation accusing the agency of violating the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment by mandating that records be turned over without a warrant.

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