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Swiss court confirms Uber status as ‘employer’

Protest by taxi drivers against Uber
The Uber ride hailing service was at the centre of a protest by taxi drivers in Lausanne in 2018. © Keystone/ Laurent Gillieron

A court in canton Vaud has confirmed an earlier ruling that a former Uber driver was an employee of the ride-sharing firm, not an independent contractor, and that the man had wrongly lost his job.

The cantonal appeals court judges said in a verdict published on Tuesday that the man had been sacked in an “unjustified manner” and that he should enjoy the same rights as a taxi driver who has a contract with a taxi company.

The driver had worked for an Uber subsidiary, between April 2015 and December 2016. His account was disactivated at the end of 2016 due to complaints against him as a driver, prompting him to launch legal action.

In April 2019, a labour court in Lausanne ruled in the driver’s favour, saying he had lost his job without just cause.

Legal battles

Uber is fighting multiple legal battles against being classified as an employer of any kind – with all the obligations and rights that would entail.

Legal experts and trade unions have hailed the latest ruling as a “landmark decision”.

According to the driver’s lawyer, this is the first time in Switzerland that a cantonal court, ruling as an appellate authority, has ruled that the Uber Group must behave like an employer.

However, Uber can still take the case to a higher court.

The decision comes on the back of a court ruling in neighbouring canton Geneva in June when judges ruled that the meal delivery service Uber Eats is an employer and has the obligation to hire its drivers.

The company has appealed against the decision at the Federal Administrative Court, but a verdict is pending.

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