On June 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada released its decision in the highly publicized case of Heller v Uber Technologies Inc. The case arises from a Toronto-based UberEATS driver’s effort to bring a $400-million class action against Uber, on behalf of Uber and UberEATS drivers in Ontario. Mr. Heller alleged that Uber violated the Employment Standards Act, 2000 by treating Uber and UberEATS drivers as independent contractors and failing to provide them with employment-related entitlements like minimum wage, vacation, and overtime pay.

The issue before the Court was the validity of an arbitration clause in a standard form service agreement. The agreement was governed by the law of the Netherlands and required drivers to litigate their disputes with Uber in the Netherlands. Uber required all of its prospective drivers to enter into this agreement by having them accept the terms through their app. The Court ruled in favor of the drivers, finding that the arbitration clause was unconscionable because its terms effectively made it effectively impossible for the drivers to arbitrate their claims.

As a result of the decision, the class action can proceed to a certification motion.

Key Takeaways

Employers with arbitration clauses in their employment contracts or independent contractor agreements must revisit their agreements to determine whether they continue to be valid in Canada. Based on the Court’s decision, employers should not have arbitration clauses that require employees to pay substantial upfront fees to initiate the process. Employers should also consider whether they should pay the administration fees required for private arbitration, subject to the company’s right to a refund of those fees if it is successful in arbitration. If employers choose to keep arbitration clauses, they should ensure that in-person hearings remain local.


Continue Reading Supreme Court of Canada Invalidates Uber Arbitration Clause in $400-Million Class Action

On July 27, 2016, an Ontario court certified a class action against Just Energy, a natural gas and electricity retailer, in which 7,000 of its sales agents claimed they were misclassified as independent contractors.

The case, Omarali v. Just Energy, is the first of its kind to be certified in Canada. If the sales agents are successful, the company could face large liabilities relating to unpaid wages (including overtime, vacation and public holiday pay) and unremitted income taxes and other required deductions.
Continue Reading First in Class: Independent Contractor Class Action Certified in Canada

In Evans v Bank of Nova Scotia, an employee of the Bank of Nova Scotia (“Bank”), Richard Wilson, provided highly confidential information about the Bank’s customers to his girlfriend, who disseminated the information to third parties for fraudulent purposes.  On June 6, 2014, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice certified a class action brought on behalf of the affected customers, alleging that they were victims of identity theft and fraud as a result of the intrusion upon seclusion.

This is the province’s first-ever class action involving the new tort of “intrusion upon seclusion”, which allows individuals to advance a civil claim for damages against an intruder who intentionally invades their privacy, without legal justification, in a manner that is highly offensive to the reasonable person.
Continue Reading “Intrusion Upon Seclusion” Class Action Certified in Ontario