Uber Drivers Ruled as Employees in Brazil

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The debate that drivers should be employees rather than contractors is one that has been discussed among drivers online.

A judge in Sao Paulo ruled that a driver using Uber is an employee rather than an independent contractor. Uber is working to appeal the decision made by Judge Eduardo Rockenbach Pires. Judge Pires ordered Uber to reimburse the driver $25,000, or 80,000 reais. This includes compensation for holidays, contribution to a severance fund, and 50,000 reais in “moral damages” based on attacks from taxi drivers who were upset with Uber’s pricing model. These attacks include several murders after the decision to accept cash payments.

Similar cases are occurring in the US, Britain, Switzerland, and Europe, threatening higher costs and regulation to Uber. Uber’s claim is that drivers are clients, not employees. Judge Pires rejected this argument because drivers are using their own cars. The court stated “It is therefore not correct to say that the drivers are clients, they are workers who expend energy for the company’s profitable activity.”

Uber has stood firm in their belief that Uber is a technology platform connecting drivers and passengers, not one that hires drivers.

The debate that drivers should be employees rather than contractors is one that has been discussed among drivers online. But, there isn’t a majority in this divide. Many drivers want worker’s compensation, social security, wage rights, medicare, unemployment insurance, and so on. Contrarily, many drivers enjoy being an independent contractor for the freedom of hours, ability to accept or deny rides, and writing off their mileage and other expenses.

Ultimately, this decision will be made by the courts. Will Uber look to change its business model, or depart from the areas that make the decision that drivers are employees? Chances are if Uber doesn’t get their way, they are just going to leave. We saw it happen in Austin, Texas, when both Uber and Lyft both seized operations because of new legislation that requires fingerprint background checks. A myriad of other states across the US have been proposing their own regulations on ridesharing.

Perhaps Uber will have to take one for the team and make both Drivers and Riders happy. After all, without them, Uber would not be where they are today.

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