Judge stays $400-million class action against Uber – Legal Feeds

Lauren Tomasich

Mar 22, 2018

An Ontario judge recently stayed a proposed class action suit brought by Uber drivers against the company in favour of arbitration in the Netherlands, a move that could have a significant impact on employment law in the province, according to an article by staff writer Alex Robinson in Legal Feeds, the blog of Canadian Lawyer and Law Times. In Heller v. Uber Technologies, the plaintiff sought $400 million in damages for the class in addition to a declaration that Uber was in contravention of the Employment Standards Act by not paying benefits to the class members. When he started working for Uber, Heller entered into a service agreement which included an arbitration clause that stipulated that disputes would be resolved by arbitration in the Netherlands – the principal location of Uber’s legal team. Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell agreed with Uber’s argument that the proceeding should be stayed as the drivers are bound by the arbitration clause. The drivers are appealing this decision.   

Robinson reached out to Lauren Tomasich, a partner in Osler’s Litigation Group and Co-Chair of the firm’s International Commercial Arbitration and ADR Group, for commentary on this outcome. Lauren was not involved in the case but says that the ruling is the latest in what has become a “tsunami” of decisions since 2000 favouring arbitration clauses.

“It really follows along the trend that we’ve been seeing that arbitration clauses are to be enforced absent legislative intention to the contrary,” she continues.

While the Consumer Protection Act provides that disputes must be resolved in the courts and that arbitration clauses cannot preclude that option, there are no provisions to that effect in the Employment Standards Act or Class Proceedings Act, Lauren explains.

For more information about this controversial ruling, read Alex Robinson’s full article “Judge stays $400-million class action against Uber” in the March 2, 2018 edition of Legal Feeds.