Uber Announces A $178 Million Settlement To Compensate Australian Drivers

(NewsReady.com) – Uber and other ridesharing companies have faced criticism in the US over their business practices. Some lawmakers have even targeted the companies with laws regarding how they classify drivers. In Australia, drivers sued Uber and just won a massive settlement.

On March 18, a class action suit against the rideshare company brought by 8,000 Australian taxi and professional drivers was supposed to begin. The Associated Press reported Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, the firm representing the drivers, announced the American company agreed to a financial settlement at the eleventh hour, making the trial unnecessary. Uber agreed to pay $178 million ($272 million AUD) to settle the suit.

Michael Donelly, the principal lawyer, said his clients suffered financial losses when Uber entered the market in 2012. He accused the company of repeatedly failing to compensate the drivers who lost their license values and income as a result.

The lawsuit accused the company of acting unlawfully when it began operating in Australia. Uber allegedly didn’t meet specific regulations that would have allowed it to begin operating a transportation services company. Essentially, it was accused of operating unregulated and pushing other drivers out of the industry.

Economist Jim Stanford, the director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, told the Australian Broadcasting Network that Uber didn’t operate legally at first. He accused the company of “flouting the laws that were already in place” and “they’re now paying the price […] for some of the damages that they caused.”

In a statement after the settlement, Uber said that when the company began, “ridesharing regulations did not exist anywhere in the world, let alone Australia.” Now, the company is regulated in every area of the country. The statement went on to say that the company had been making “significant contributions into various state-level taxi compensation schemes” since 2018, but now plans to put those “legacy issues firmly in [the] past.”

The deal was the fifth-largest class action settlement in the country’s history.

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