Uber Drivers Are Employees, Brazil Court Rules

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By Ed Taylor

Uber Technologies Inc.'s operations in Brazil have run afoul of the country’s labor laws for the second time this year.

A labor court judge in Brazil’s business capital of Sao Paulo ruled April 14 that a former Uber driver was an employee entitled to vacation pay, severance pay and other benefits guaranteed by Brazil’s labor laws.

Uber has faced a wave of litigation around the world over the status of its drivers, including in the U.S., the U.K. and France. The decision marks the second time in the past two months that a Brazilian court has ruled that Uber drivers are employees.

Uber told Bloomberg BNA April 17 that it will appeal the latest ruling.

Judge Eduardo Rockenback Pires of the 13th labor court in Sao Paulo rejected Uber’s argument that its drivers are clients, not employees, because they use their own cars.

“Uber provides a transportation service to passengers, using the human work provided by drivers,” the court said. “It is therefore not correct to say that the drivers are clients, they are workers who expend energy for the company’s profitable activity.”

Mauricio Nanartonis, counsel for the plaintiff and an attorney at Nanartonis and Netto, told Bloomberg BNA April 17 that Uber sets the prices for its drivers and disciplines their operations. Uber’s actions are evidence of a formal work relationship as defined by Brazilian law, Nanartonis said.

Nanartonis said he is representing former Uber drivers in 15 other cases over alleged worker misclassification. He said that the drivers were removed unilaterally from the app “without cause,” in violation of Brazil’s labor laws.

Uber said in a statement that the plaintiff in the latest case was removed due to “bad conduct.” The statement repeated Uber’s position that it is a technology platform connecting drivers and passengers and doesn’t hire drivers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ed Taylor in Rio de Janeiro at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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