A superior court in Brazil has decided Uber drivers are independent from the company, according to a report by Bloomberg. The decision was handed down unanimously by 10 judges, overturning a previous ruling.
“App drivers don’t have a hierarchic relationship with Uber because their services are provided casually, without pre-established working hours or fixed salary, and therefore the characteristics of the labor tie among the parts don’t exist,” the court said.
Uber has been dealing with contention over the status of its drivers in the United States as well. In California, lawmakers are considering a bill that would classify Uber drivers as employees, which would mean they are eligible for minimum wage protections and benefits. When Uber filed its IPO earlier this year, it listed the status of its drivers as a risk factor.
The Brazilian court, known as the STJ, also decided that when there was a dispute between Uber and a driver, it would go to civil court and not the country’s labor court. This is the first time a dispute between a driver and Uber has reached a high court in Brazil, and will likely serve as a precedent for other cases in lower courts.
“The current technological tools available allowed the development of a new form of economic interaction, creating the so-called shared economy, in which services provided by private car owners are intermediated by technology companies,” said a ruling published on the STJ’s website.
Uber said the decision made by the court was the right one. “The decision reinforces more than 250 lower-court decisions in Brazil saying there’s no labor tie between Uber and its drivers,” the company noted.
Brazil is one of Uber’s larger markets, with more than 600,000 drivers in over 100 cities.