The European wing of Uber [corporate website] was indicted [press release, in Danish] in Denmark on Friday on charges of assisting drivers in their violation of taxi laws, although Copenhagen prosecutor Vibeke Thorkil-Jensen stated that this is just a test case seeking judicial assessment of Uber’s involvement in the illegal acts of two of its drivers. One Uber driver was convicted and fined USD $855 last month for violating taxi laws while another was sentenced for failing to appear in court. This is the first time Uber, as a corporate entity, has been indicted in Denmark. The Copenhagen prosecutor is seeking a fine [Reuters report] of USD $4,300. The date for the hearing on the case is yet to be set, but Uber has assured its customers that its ride-hailing app will not be disrupted while the legal process is ongoing. Welcoming the opportunity to clarify its legal position to the prosecutor, Uber stated that it is encouraged by the government’s indications concerning the modernization of Denmark’s taxi regulations.
This is the latest in Uber’s legal troubles worldwide. Last month a UK employment tribunal ruled [JURIST report] that Uber can no longer treat its drivers as self-employed and must provide certain workers’ rights to its drivers, including minimum wage. In September the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Uber drivers may not join in a class action suit to pursue employment claims against the transportation company but must resolve their disputes individually. In April Uber reached a settlement [JURIST report] with 385,000 of its drivers in Massachusetts and California in a case surrounding the drivers’ status as independent contractors. The California Labor Commission [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in June of last year that drivers for the personal transportation service Uber are considered employees, not contractors. With the rapid growth of companies like Lyft [official website] and Uber, ride-sharing services have been among the most controversial business models [JURIST backgrounder] in recent history. App-based ride-sharing services have been both praised for their successful implementation and criticized for their uncertain position in transportation regulation. In several states, ride-sharing companies have met significant legal opposition, frequently led by competitors such as the taxi industry. Other unresolved questions about the future of ride-sharing [JURIST backgrounder] continue to prompt debate among lawmakers.