The ruling clashes with the company’s definition of its drivers as self-employed.
A French court defined the relationship between Uber and its drivers as a “work contract” Friday for the first time in the country, according to French media, dealing a blow to the ride-hailing company that says its drivers are self-employed.
The ruling from Paris’ Court of Appeals stems from a 2017 complaint from an Uber driver who sued the U.S.-based company after it deactivated his account.
According to Agence France Presse, which has reviewed the ruling, the court stated that there is a “relationship of subordination” between drivers and Uber that amounts to a “work contract.”
The driver’s complaint should therefore be handled further by a court devoted to employment matters, AFP and Le Monde reported — which means Uber’s drivers in France will not be redefined as employees unless there are further rulings to this effect.
According to the ruling, Uber drivers cannot freely define the fare or their working conditions and therefore are not “independent workers” in the eyes of French law.
Contract and employment status are hot-button issues for Uber, which has been waging court battles across Europe to argue that their couriers are self-employed rather than contract workers who would benefit from job security guarantees, social benefits and possible access to unemployment benefits.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Uber said: “This decision does not reflect the reasons why the vast majority of drivers choose to use the Uber app. They value Uber because of the independence and freedom to use our app if, when and where they want.”
The spokesperson pointed to changes made over the past two years to Uber’s conditions that the company says gives drivers “more control” over how they use the app.