Meet the Uber drivers who spent 5 years fighting the ride-hailing firm for basic workers’ rights – and won

Former Uber drivers James Farrar (L) and Yaseen Aslam react as they leave the Employment Appeals Tribunal in central London on November 10, 2017. US ride-hailing app Uber on Friday lost a landmark case in Britain that would give drivers the right to paid holidays and the national minimum wage, lawyers representing the claimants said. Farrar, who brought the test case with fellow former driver Aslam, called Uber's business plan "brutally exploitative". Uber said it will appeal the ruling.
Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam leaving an employment appeals tribunal in 2017.

  • Two ex-Uber drivers won a huge legal battle against the taxi app firm over workers’ rights.
  • Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar began the case in 2016, fighting for minimum wage and other rights.
  • Farrar said Uber is being defiant about the ruling but hopes it’ll come to accept it.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Five years after they took Uber to court, two ex-drivers on Friday won a legal battle against the ride-hailing firm.

Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar were part of a small group of drivers who brought the original case against Uber in 2015. Aslam and his colleague Farrar, president and general secretary of the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU) respectively, claimed Uber was breaking UK employment law by failing to offer basic worker rights, such as holiday pay and national minimum wage. They won the case.

Uber disputed the claims, saying it acted like other traditional minicab firms and counted its drivers as self-employed contractors. At the time, this meant drivers had minimal protections, including no sick pay and Uber could avoid the costs of paying minimum wage. In 2017, Uber appealed the original ruling and lost.

Uber then appealed the case in the UK’s Supreme Court and the process dragged on into February 2021. Again, the company lost, marking the end of its legal road. The outcome could threaten Uber’s business model in the UK – one of its biggest markets – if it is forced to cough up back pay for thousands of drivers who may bring cases, and if it must pay higher taxes.

The dispute will go back to an employment tribunal, which will decide how much the 25 drivers who brought the case five years ago will be awarded. Aslam believes he’s entitled to between £10,000 and £12,000.

“I was delighted,” he told Insider. “It means a lot. I didn’t just do it for myself, I did it for the workers and drivers. I’m just a driver who spoke up for injustice.”

Aslam, who is based in the UK, worked for Uber between 2013 and 2017. Once, during his time at the company, he says Uber “deactivated” him for organizing a campaign against the company’s treatment of drivers. This meant the company didn’t allow him to access the app to pick up passengers, he said. 

“I’m not anti-Uber and I’m not there to shut Uber down. But the law is there for a reason,” he added. Uber did not respond when Insider asked it to comment on Aslam’s claims of deactivation.

Uber’s business model 

When Aslam first started working at Uber, he said it was good. He earned £50 an hour, got a £10 bonus for each ride, and the fares were higher. Plus, the company “put the drivers first.”

As he continued working for the company, however, the fares got cheaper and the bonuses stopped, he says. After the launch of UberPool, a service launched in 2015 that allows people to split ride costs with another person who is travelling in the same direction, drivers were earning even less, according to Aslam.

Back in 2016, CNN also reported that drivers said UberPool meant more work, but not necessarily more pay. Aslam said drivers have realised that Uber is “hiding behind technology to control workers.”

According to Aslam, Uber’s business model involves mass recruiting and flooding the streets with drivers and cars, while keeping fares cheap to attract customers. This has long been a criticism of Uber and its business model – that the firm, initially funded by huge amounts of private capital, could afford to keep cab fares artificially low at the expense of drivers and the competition.

Although Aslam thinks businesses such as Uber should exist, he said they “rely on exploiting people and they go for a mass scaling model and I think it’s wrong.” He believes the customer should take some responsibility in the pricing as there’s a human cost involved: “There’s someone behind that wheel and they need to have rights.”

The case still isn’t over

“The devil is in the details now,” Farrar told Insider. He said Uber is being defiant about committing to implement the ruling.

After the recent ruling, Uber was quick to point out that it only applied to the group of 25 drivers who brought the case in 2016. It also said the ruling was specific to how Uber’s business operated when the drivers initially filed a lawsuit, and that the business has since changed.

“Uber is trying to spin a line to drivers that this ruling only applies to the original claimants and not to all drivers,”  said Farrar, who worked for Uber between 2015 and 2016. “Not only is it untrue but it’s demonstrably contrary to the spirit of the ruling.”

He hopes Uber is just going through “a stage of emotional grief and denial” and that it will accept the ruling. But if not, he said the government and regulator Transport for London (TfL) needs to step in. 

Claims against Uber are already piling up

If the government doesn’t enforce the law and TfL doesn’t step in, Farrar said he and other drivers would have to “pile up litigation” against Uber.

Indeed, thousands of claimants are already making claims against the firm. Nigel Mackay, a partner at Leigh Day Solicitors, said his company currently has 3,500 clients with claims against Uber.

Farrar, who formed an organization called Worker Info Exchange to help app workers like Uber drivers access their data from companies they work for, said these types of claims could become extremely expensive for the taxi app company. He believes there’ll be a cottage industry of lawyers making continuous claims against Uber “because it’s an easy win.”

He added: “It’s embarrassing that the poorest people on minimum wage have to go to the Supreme Court against one of the most powerful companies on Earth.”

Although Uber did not respond to Insider’s request for comment, the company sent a press release shortly after the ruling, featuring a statement from Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe.

It said: “We respect the court’s decision which focussed on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016. Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.  We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”

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Giuliani is no longer currently representing Trump, per report, despite the former president’s ongoing legal battles

rudy giuliani
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyer for U.S. President Donald Trump, speaks during a news conference about lawsuits contesting the results of the presidential election at the Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday Nov. 19, 2020.

  • Rudy Giuliani is no longer “currently” representing former President Trump in legal matters, per CNN.
  • A Trump adviser said Giuliani’s parting was only because there are no “pending cases” he’s involved in.
  • Trump faces a slew of criminal and civil cases targeting his campaign, administration, and business.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Former President Donald Trump has reportedly cut ties with his personal attorney and ally, Rudy Giuliani, according to CNN.

Senior Trump adviser Jason Miller told the outlet Tuesday that the former New York mayor is “not currently representing President Trump in any legal matters.” 

Miller later explained in a tweet that Giuliani is not representing the former president “simply because there are no pending cases” in which he’s involved. “The Mayor remains an ally and a friend,” Miller tweeted. 

After Trump was impeached for the second time last month, he was reportedly angry at his allies, whom he felt should have done more to stand up for him. He was said to be particularly upset with Giuliani and instructed his aides not to pay the attorney’s legal fees.

Insider reported that Trump was “offended” by some of Giuliani’s actions, including requesting $20,000 a day for his work fighting the election results. Though Giuliani vehemently denied he had requested the sum, he eventually acknowledged that one of his associates had asked campaign officials for a $20,000 a day fee to help Trump after his election loss.

Giuliani did not represent Trump in his impeachment trial because the attorney was a “witness” in the case and gave a speech at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the Capitol attack in which he told the crowd it was time for “trial by combat.” 

For months, Giuliani encouraged baseless conspiracy theories that challenged the integrity of the 2020 US election. He was also a part of several losing lawsuits that attempted to overturn the election results. 

Trump lost presidential immunity when he left office in January, and a “tsunami” of civil and criminal matters targeting his administration, campaign committee, business interests, and his own words await him, now without the protective powers of the presidency.

Though the Senate acquitted Trump for his role in the Capitol riots, federal prosecutors haven’t ruled out investigating the former president for inciting the attack that left five dead, according to Insider’s Dave Levinthal. 

“He’s worried about it,” one adviser told CNN.

The former president also faces potential legal repercussions for his January phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which Trump pressured the official to “find” additional votes in an attempt to overturn the state’s election results. Prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, said earlier this month that they were launching a criminal investigation into Trump’s actions.

Giuliani remained one of Trump’s most loyal supporters throughout his presidency, even though his close relationship with the president has resulted in numerous legal troubles of his own.

On Monday, a newly elected district attorney in Georgia said he is looking into potential racketeering charges against Giuliani for his repeated false claims of election fraud.

Then Tuesday, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi filed a suit against Giuliani, Trump, and two extremist groups in connection to the Capitol insurrection.

Giuliani also faces a defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems and one from Smartmatic after he promoted baseless conspiracy theories that the voting technology companies were responsible for election fraud.

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