A higher court for labour ruled that there is no employment relationship between Uber and its drivers, siding with the ride-hailing company against a Sao Paulo driver in Brazil.
In Brasilia, the federal judge ruled against recognizing an employer-employee link, arguing that Uber drivers can disconnect at any time from the app and have a flexible work schedule. Until today, lower courts had decided on labour issues involving Uber, but now a federal court has ruled and its decision, while not binding for other similar cases, is expected to set the standard.
Welcoming the ruling, Uber said in a statement that it supported dozens of previous decisions in Brazilian courts establishing that its drivers are not employees. The company had argued that its platform is a digital intermediary, not an employer and that drivers accept that condition when they sign on.
Brazil is the second-biggest market for Uber after the United States, and Sao Paulo is its top city by a number of rides, ahead of a metropolis like New York. The company said that the court had recognized the innovative character of its platform that partners with more than 600,000 drivers in over 100 cities in Brazil, serving more than 22 million people who use it app.
Federal labour judge Breno Medeiros found that the wide flexibility of the drivers in terms of deciding where they want to drive and the number of customers they serve each day was incompatible with an employer-employee relationship. He said that the take-home pay of drivers from each ride, between 75% and 80% of the total fare, was enough to characterize the relationship with Uber as a partnership.
In California, Uber Technologies has been allowed to restart testing its self-driving vehicles with a backup driver, almost two years after its autonomous car killed a pedestrian in Arizona. The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a permit to the company’s self-driving unit, Uber Advanced Technologies.
The company said that it does not have immediate plans to engage in autonomous driving in the state, adding that it would notify regulatory stakeholders before doing so. The ride-hailing firm has taken a more cautious approach to test its self-driving vehicles after the Arizona accident in March 2018, which led to the first death involving an autonomous vehicle.