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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Uber driver emplyee says California; Delhi Court says Uber still subject to ban !!

Uber is an American international transportation network company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, markets and operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers to submit a trip request which is then routed to sharing economy drivers.   In India, Uber is in trouble – in Dec 2014, a 27-year-old woman was allegedly raped by the driver of the cab she had hired to return home from a dinner party in Gurgaon.   The incident took place when the woman, who works for a finance company in Gurgaon,  headed back to her home in north Delhi's Inderlok area.  She hired a cab run by a private company to take her to Inderlok," police said citing the complaint filed by the victim.  On the way, the woman dozed off on the back seat of the car only to wake up and find that they had stopped at a secluded spot. She found that the car doors were locked and, when she tried to raise an alarm, the driver thrashed her and then committed rape, police said.

A massive search operation involving 12 Delhi police teams was on in Mathura and other parts of Uttar Pradesh to nab the accused. Delhi Police also announced a cash reward of Rs one lakh for his arrest. The driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav, was finally was arrested from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh  by a joint team of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police.  The accused, Uber cab driver Shiv Kumar Yadav, is 32-year-old  and a native of Mathura who was living in rented premises in Delhi. Yadav, who allegedly raped the woman, is a repeat offender and was also involved in a rape case in 2011 as well for which he spent 7 months in jail.  The incident caused outrage in India.

Now, an Indian court has left the ban on Uber Technologies Inc. in place in Delhi and asked transport regulators to respond to the ride-hailing company’s challenge to an order barring the service. The Indian arm of the San Francisco-based firm sought to overturn the prohibition on Uber in the city after the court lifted the ban on the company’s main rivals, ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd.-owned Ola and TaxiForSure last week. The Delhi High Court judge hearing Uber’s petition on Wednesday said the company was still subject to the ban and the next hearing on the matter would take place July 8.

Miles away, in  what could prove to be a precedent-setting ruling for the sharing economy, California’s Labour Commission has ruled that an Uber driver should be classified as an employee, not an independent contractor.  NYTimes reports that the  ruling, made in March but which came to light after Uber filed an appeal on Tuesday evening, ordered the company to reimburse Barbara Ann Berwick, a former Uber driver, $4,152.20 in expenses and other costs for the period when Ms. Berwick worked as a driver.

Uber has long positioned itself as a “logistics company,” an app that drivers and passengers use merely to facilitate private transactions and not a transportation fleet with tens of thousands of employee drivers. The company argued it did not exert any control over the hours its drivers worked and did not require drivers to complete a minimum number of trips, according to the court filing.

But the Labor Commission cited many instances in which it said Uber acted more like an employer. The ruling noted that Uber provided drivers with phones and had a policy of deactivating its app if drivers were inactive for 180 days. ”Defendants hold themselves out as nothing more than a neutral technological platform, designed simply to enable drivers and passengers to transact the business of transportation,” the ruling states. “The reality, however, is that defendants are involved in every aspect of the operation.”

Representatives for Uber and the California Labour Commission did not immediately respond to phone and email requests for comment.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th June 2015.

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