Two drivers of the ride-hailing firm Uber have sued the company, seeking that they should be classified as workers with basic rights.
The drivers have filed the lawsuit in the Central London Employment Tribunal, which will decide on the lawfulness of the company’s practices.
Uber has always stated that the drivers are self-employed, the Financial Times reported.
The case is the first legal challenge faced by Uber in the UK, where it has over 30,000 drivers.
James Farrar, one of the drivers, has claimed Uber is paying less than the minimum wage.
Farrar, in his written witness statement, said that Uber paid £5.03 an hour after expenses in August 2015. He also alleged racial abuse by one of his customers.
But Uber claimed that Farrar was paid £13.77 on an average hourly basis, taking into account the total number of hours logged into the app.
He said: “My calculation is that their take-home pay after Uber’s deductions and expenses would be £5.17 an hour.”
Farrar said that he was racially and physically abused as a driver by some female customers in March 2015.
According to his statement, Uber did not pay attention to requests made by him for details of those customers due to data privacy reasons.
Farrar also alleged that Uber logged some of its drivers out of the app for 10 minutes if they denied taking two or three trips in a row.
The drivers’ case has received suppor from the law firm Leigh Day and the GMB union.
Meanwhile, Uber is seeking to argue that drivers should only be allowed to seek legal solutions in the Netherlands, where its European headquarters is located, but not in the UK.
Uber UK regional general manager Jo Bertram was quoted by the publication as saying: “More than 30,000 people in London drive with our app and this case only involves a very small number.
“The main reason people choose to partner with Uber is so they can become their own boss, pick their own hours and work completely flexibly. Many partner-drivers have left other lines of work and chosen to partner with Uber for this very reason. In fact two-thirds of new partner-drivers joining the Uber platform have been referred by another partner.”
Leigh Day’s lawyer Annie Powell said: “Uber currently denies that its drivers are entitled to the most basic of workers’ rights. Uber’s defence is that it is just a technology company, not a taxi company, and that Uber drivers do not work for Uber but instead work for themselves as self-employed business men and women.”