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Technology driven decision challenged by Uber drivers

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

In a landmark ruling, the Amsterdam District Court has ordered Uber to reinstate six Uber drivers and pay compensation after they were unlawfully dismissed by algorithmic means. The case was brought by the App Drivers & Couriers Union together with Worker Info Exchange representing five UK drivers and one Dutch driver. This is the first time a court has ordered the overturning of an automated decision to dismiss workers from employment.

Abdifatah Abdalla, one of the drivers who worked in London, said he had started driving for Uber in 2014 and had completed more than 7,000 trips for the company before being summarily dismissed in September. He says he was sent a message informing him that he was being ousted from the Uber app because of “security concerns related to account sharing”. Although he says no evidence was provided, he was told that “the decision is final”.

James Farrar, the director of Worker Info Exchange, said: “For the Uber drivers robbed of their jobs and livelihoods, this has been a dystopian nightmare come true. They were publicly accused of ‘fraudulent activity’ on the back of poorly governed use of bad technology. This case is a wake-up call for lawmakers about the abuse of surveillance technology now proliferating in the gig economy.” He claimed gig economy groups were “hiding management control in algorithms”.04

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