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Brazil judge rules Uber drivers are employees, deserve benefits

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A Brazilian judge ruled that a driver using the Uber ride-hailing app is an employee of the San Francisco-based company and is entitled to workers’ benefits, adding to the global debate over labor rights for drivers on the platform.

Uber said on Tuesday it would appeal the decision by Judge Marcio Toledo Gonçalves, who issued the ruling late Monday in a labor court in Minas Gerais state.

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Gonçalves ordered Uber to pay one driver around 30,000 reais ($10,000) in compensation for overtime, night shifts, holidays and expenses such as gasoline, water and candy for passengers.

The consequences for Uber, if the ruling is upheld, could be far greater if more drivers follow suit and if state and federal regulators and tax agencies start treating it, as the judge suggested, as a transportation company rather than a tech firm.

Similar cases in the United States, Britain, Switzerland, and Europe’s highest court have threatened to increase Uber’s costs and subject it to stricter regulation, with implications for peers building platforms for part-time work in the so-called ‘gig economy’.

Uber said in a statement that it was appealing the decision, citing a contradictory ruling by another labor judge in Minas Gerais two weeks ago. The company said drivers are free to set their own hours, cancel or pass on trips and use competing apps, making them service providers rather than employees.

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The ride-hailing app has also raised concerns about the safety of its drivers in Brazil.

A Reuters investigation revealed a 10-fold increase in attacks on drivers, including several murders, after enabling cash payments on its platform at the end of July. Questions were raised within the company as to why it did not act faster to address the problem.

($1 = 3.096 reais)

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(Reporting by Brad Haynes; editing by Grant McCool)


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‘A deeply disappointing moment’: Trump’s new national security adviser is ‘big fan’ of John Bolton

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President Donald Trump named Robert C. O’Brien as national security adviser on Wednesday even though his worldview is similar to that of former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

“I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor,” the president announced in a tweet.

O'Brien's appointment comes a week after the firing of Bolton, who was known to clash with Trump because of his hawkish foreign policy positions.

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Black woman confronts racist tow truck driver over slurs: ‘I bet you this goes viral’

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A Massachusetts tow truck driver was caught on camera last weekend hurling racist abuse at a black man.

The woman, identified online as Nene Judge'mayo, shared video of the incident Sept. 14 with a driver from Robert Towing in Brighton.

"Because of your f*cking n*gger husband," says the driver, whom she identified as Jeff, as he walked toward his truck.

The woman confronts the driver about the racial slur, and the driver confirms that's what he said and then pulls out his own phone to record the incident.

"Look me up -- my last video of a white man went viral, of the motorcycle girl that hit the news," she tells the driver. "I bet you this goes viral, too."

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Christian conservatives are giving Americans an ‘allergic reaction’ to religion: researchers

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The number of Americans identifying as atheists is increasing -- and recent social science research suggests that the Christian Right is playing a key role in making that happen.

As reported by Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight, new research has found that distaste for Trump-loving Christian conservatism has not just turned some Americans off from individual churches but from religion altogether.

"As recently as the early 1990s, less than 10 percent of Americans lacked a formal religious affiliation, and liberals weren’t all that much likelier to be nonreligious than the public overall," FiveThirtyEight notes. "Today, however, nearly one in four Americans are religiously unaffiliated. That includes almost 40 percent of liberals — up from 12 percent in 1990, according to the 2018 General Social Survey."

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