Uber was ordered to pay a sum of 17 million euros to 139 Lyon drivers
The Uber company was condemned on Friday by the industrial court of Lyon for paying around 17 million euros to 139 VTC drivers, a “quite historic decision”, according to their lawyer, Me Stéphane Teyssier. Contacted by AFP, the American company has announced it intends to appeal.
Lyon drivers had seized an industry court in 2020 to have the relationship linking them with Uber reclassified as an employment contract. The hearing was held in June 2022 and the council has backed up its decision.
“Unprecedented in France”
“We have quite a historic decision today. Uber has been ordered to fulfill the contracts of 139 drivers for a sum of 17 to 20 million euros,” Me Teyssier told AFP, confirming information from regional daily Le Progrès. “Such confidence is unprecedented in France,” he said.
The group must pay damages or compensation for various violations of the Labor Code such as dismissal without real and serious reasons, hidden employment, wrong performance of the employment contract, unjustified disciplinary sanctions or non-compliance with laws relating to working hours. maximum hours of work and mandatory rest periods.
The industrial court ruled “based on the established case law of the January 2020 Court of Cassation. The Court of Cassation considered that Uber drivers should be considered employees (…) This is a logical application of the case law,” said Me Teyssier.
American protests. “This decision contradicts the widely held position of industry courts and courts of appeals which uphold the independence of VTC drivers using the app, noting in particular that there are no work obligations, or exclusivity vis-à-vis Uber or that drivers remain completely free in managing their activities,” commented a spokesperson contacted by AFP, without giving the amount Uber owed.
Uber ‘acting like a cartel’
“This conference acknowledged the abuse of its dominant position by Uber, which has acted like a cartel for years”, the independent drivers’ association of Lyon (Acil) reacted in a press release, hailing a “historic victory”. For Fabien Tosolini, national delegate of the Union-Indépendants union, “this important decision allows for a rebalancing of the balance of power in the context of the negotiations, which started last September, between trade union platforms and organizations”.
The Court of Cassation admitted in March 2020 to a subordinate relationship between Uber and one of its drivers, judging that the independent status was “fictitious” and should be considered an employee. Later, in September 2021, the Paris Court of Appeal ruled that the employment relationship between the driver and Uber could be “analyzed as a contract of employment” and not as a commercial relationship.
However, according to Uber, which describes Lyon’s decision as “isolated”, requests to requalify as a salaried driver have not been successful in more than 65% of cases (298 drivers were not requalified out of 460 requests) since the Court’s termination. Cassation in March 2020.
“Uber is surprised by this decision but it is a logical continuation of all the decisions that have taken place in Europe, that have taken place in France”, replied Me Teyssier. Uber clarified that the “driver’s account (will be) deactivated upon receipt of the ruling as ordered by the council”.
The status of being self-employed, on which platforms like Uber or Deliveroo base their models, is being questioned in a growing number of countries. “We are determined to advance the issue of platform workers’ rights and are convinced that the right way is through social dialogue with driver representatives to build a model that maintains the flexibility and independence they profess, while guaranteeing real improvements in their working conditions,” underlined an Uber spokesperson. , which has around 30,000 drivers using its platform in France.