A former Uber driver from High Wycombe who won a landmark case against the taxi giant is preparing to take the company to court again – this time for breaching GDPR rules.
In a landmark test of data rights at work under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), introduced in the European Union last year, four current and former Uber drivers – including Yaseen Aslam from High Wycombe – are taking legal action against the ride-hailing app again.
Yaseen, along with colleague James Fararr, were the co-lead claimants in the successful worker rights claim against Uber.
The pair originally brought an employment case against Uber with trade union GMB on behalf of a group of 19 of its workers, who argued they were employed by the firm rather than being limb B workers – a legal term to describe a self-employed person who carries out their work as part of someone else’s business – because they were “being told how to do their jobs”.
After a ruling in 2016, in which the judge agreed that Uber drivers are not self-employed and should be granted basic employment rights such as being paid the national minimum wage and getting holiday pay, the company appealed the decision – and lost at the end of 2018.
Now, Yaseen and James and two other drivers are taking the firm to court again – claiming that Uber is failing to honour its obligations under the GDPR to share the personal information it has about its drivers.
It is the first legal action of its kind testing the right of those who work in the gig economy to have access to the digital information held about them.
The drivers say Uber has breached their rights by failing to disclose personal data the firm holds on them including duration of time logged on to the platform, performance data, how the data is processed and the impact this may have had on the quality, quantity and value of work offered over time and trip ratings.
Drivers can be dismissed when their rating dips below 4.4 so the ability to legitimately appeal unfair ratings on a trip by trip basis can be crucial to maintaining employment, the workers say.
In a pre-action protocol letter sent to Uber on March 20, the drivers claim the firm is in breach of Article 15 of the GDPR which guarantees them the right to ‘obtain from the controller confirmation as to whether or not personal data concerning him or her are being processed, and, where that is the case, access to the personal data.’
The claim is made against various Uber operating entities in the UK, Netherlands and Ireland.
The four drivers have asked Uber to disclose to them their data by making requests as far back as July 2018, but they say they have been met with “delayed, inconsistent, incomplete, piece meal and mostly unintelligible disclosures before finally the firm ceased correspondence”.
The drivers are being represented by Ravi Naik of ITN Solicitors in London and backed backed by Worker Info Exchange, a start-up organisation campaigning for data access and digital fairness at work.
Yaseen said: “Uber told me I’d be my own boss, referred to me as a ‘partner’ and claimed their algorithm would empower drivers but instead they used their technology to exploit us all.
“It’s upsetting that Uber have not released to me all my data which they still use to power their algorithm. This is further proof that gig economy employers like Uber manipulate our data behind the curtain to make huge profits for themselves while placing us at a financial disadvantage.”
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