Uber pays $178m to settle lawsuit with taxi drivers in Australia

Law firm behind class action says outcome among most successful legal actions ever taken against the ride-sharing giant.

Uber has faced multiple class action suits taken on behalf of taxi and hire drivers [Jeff Chiu/AP]

Uber has agreed to pay $178m to settle a lawsuit with taxi and hire car drivers in Australia who say they lost earnings to the ride-hailing app, a law firm has announced.

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, which filed the class action on behalf of more than 8,000 taxi and hire car owners and drivers in 2019, said the outcome was one of the most successful legal actions ever taken against the ride-sharing giant.

“Uber fought tooth and nail at every point along the way, every day, for the five years this has been on foot, trying at every turn to deny our group members any form of remedy or compensation for their losses,” Maurice Blackburn Lawyers Principal Michael Donelly said in a statement on Monday.

“But on the courtroom steps and after years of refusing to do the right thing by those we say they harmed, Uber has blinked, and thousands of everyday Australians joined together to stare down a global giant.”

“This will be one of the top five class action settlements in Australian legal history – putting beyond any doubt that Uber has been held to account for its actions,” Donelly added.

Uber said that it had made “significant” contributions to various state-level taxi compensation schemes since 2018 and that the settlement put “these legacy issues firmly in our past”.

“When Uber started more than a decade ago, ridesharing regulations did not exist anywhere in the world, let alone Australia. Today is different, and Uber is now regulated in every state and territory across Australia, and governments recognise us as an important part of the nation’s transport mix,” the company said in a statement.

“The rise of ridesharing has grown Australia’s overall point-to-point transport industry, bringing with it greater choice and improved experiences for consumers, as well as new earnings opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Australian workers.”

Uber will continue focusing on helping the millions of Australians who use the service to “get from A to B in a safe, affordable and reliable manner”, the company added.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies