Adelaide-based former Uber Eats driver, Amita Gupta, was dismissed by Uber for being 10 minutes late on a delivery.  Mrs Gupta lodged a claim for Unfair Dismissal with the Fair Work Commission, who ruled she was ineligible for protection, as she was not an employee.  With the support of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), Ms Gupta challenged that rulling in the Federal Court of Australia.

Santosh and Amita Gupta Amita Gupta & husband Santosh

The Federal Court judges questioned Uber's lawyers' arguement that there was "no relationship of employment" between Uber and Ms Gupta. "We actually operate in the real world here," Justice Richard White responded. "This is not a debating club. We've not just got a theoretic construct to ask ourselves about. I'm puzzled as to why your client doesn't offer the court an analysis of the true factual element of the characterisation of the relationship."

The court reserved its decision, but Ms Gupta and Uber reached a confidential settlement before a judgement could be handed down.

Labour law expert Prof Joellen Riley Munton from the University of Technology Sydney, said it appeared that Uber had “decided not to take the risk” of a court ruling, and settled.

Transport Workers Union secretary Michael Kaine used parliamentary privilege to reveal details of a confidential settlement between Uber and former driver Amita Gupta that was struck after three Federal Court judges criticised the company’s arguments in a hearing last year.

Uber paid $400,000 to a sacked driver to settle legal action that could have forced the company to pay its workers minimum wages and conditions, a Senate inquiry has been told.

Michael Kaine, TWU National Secretary

Mr Kaine told the Senate inquiry that it was clear during the court proceedings the judges were unimpressed with Uber’s arguments. He said Ms Gupta would have been entitled to a maximum $15,000 for six months work if she had won her unfair dismissal claim but Uber had settled for $400,000.

“It was clear Uber wanted to ensure there was no risk its exploitative system would be overturned by the court,” he said.

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