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Amir has been a rideshare driver for some years. Recently, he picked up a passenger who was intoxicated and was verbally and physically abusive to Amir, using racial slurs. Amir contacted emergency services through the rideshare app to report the passenger. A few days later, the rideshare platform deactivated Amir’s driver account, stating that there were too many complaints against him. Amir denies this, as he has always had a strong positive rating on the platform. He hasn’t been able to get in touch with the platform to resolve this issue.
JobWatch explained to Amir that as most rideshare drivers are not considered employees, they do not have access to typical legal courses of action under employment law such as unfair dismissal claims. However, they do have access to discrimination claims, and in some circumstances, may also be eligible to access WorkCover or claims through their own personal insurance.
We explained that a race discrimination claim can be brought against a principal by an independent contractor in both state and federal jurisdictions, including for vicarious liability if the principal has failed to take appropriate steps to prevent discrimination by others. We sent Amir a Fact Sheet on making a race discrimination claim.
We also explained that independent contractors may also be able to bring a General Protections – Non-Termination claim against a principal that refuses to engage the contractor for a prohibited reason, such a complaint they have made about discrimination. We sent Amir a Fact Sheet on making a General Protections claim.
We also discussed that some gig economy workers might be able to access a WorkCover claim or other insurance claims if they were physically injured on the job, as Amir reports he was, and provided Amir with relevant information on how these claims work.
We made further referrals for Amir to the Victorian Gig Worker Support Service for further support, and to the Victorian Small Business Commission who may be able to assist Amir with mediation on his issue.
Bill has been a rideshare driver for a few months. His driver account was hacked a few weeks ago, but he was able to contact customer service to reinstate his account. However since then, every time he tries to access the money he has earned on his account, the platform blocks him due to ‘suspicious activity’ because of the previous hack. Bill has over $7,000 in his account to cash out, but he has been unable to access it and the platform has been unable to help though he is still driving every day.
JobWatch gave Bill some guidance on how independent contractors such as rideshare drivers are able to bring a civil claim in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or the state’s Magistrate’s Court to get access to money that they are owed for services that they have provided. We explained that there is a fee associated with filing a claim, and that depending on the claim, the process could take up to a year to resolve.
In the meantime, we sent Bill a sample Letter of Demand for independent contractors, which he could tailor to his circumstances and send to the gig economy platform as an initial formal legal measure. We also referred Bill to the Victorian Gig Worker Support Service, and to the Victorian Small Business Commission who may be able to assist Bill with mediation on his issue.
Sara’s rideshare driver account was recently closed after she made a complaint about non-payment of cleaning fees. She cited two incidents of vomiting passengers two weeks apart, where the platform only paid half of the cleaning fee for the first incident, and no cleaning fee for the second incident as they claimed Sara was lying about the incident. Sara has photographic evidence of the two separate incidents, and believes that the cleaning fee should have been paid both times, and her account kept open.
JobWatch discussed with Sara that her eligibility to claim the cleaning fee would depend on her contract with the platform and whether this fee was a contractual entitlement or platform policy. She would require a lawyer to review her contract to determine this. If she is entitled to this fee under her contract, she could bring a civil claim in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or the state’s Magistrate’s Court to get access to money that she is owed, and ask for reinstatement on the platform as part of her claim.
However given the length of time that it might take to make this claim and the associated claim filing fees, we also directed Sara to the Victorian Gig Worker Support Service for further support, and to the Victorian Small Business Commission who may be able to assist Sara with mediation on her issue.
Paul found a two-day temporary manual labourer job on a gig economy platform. He had a verbal agreement with the person who posted the job, agreeing that Paul would be paid $20 an hour and work for 8 hours a day for two days. Paul expected to be paid $320 in total for his two days of work, working under his ABN. After the two days of work, Paul sent the person who posted the job an invoice for payment. He received text messages back with “payment isn’t going through”, “wait a bit more”, and so on. Four weeks later, Paul still hasn’t been paid and the person is no longer responding to Paul’s messages and has deleted their profile off the platform. Paul doesn’t know how to get the money that he is owed as he only has the person’s first name and mobile number.
JobWatch discussed with Paul that if he is a genuine independent contractor working under their own ABN, then he has the option to send a Letter of Demand to the job poster / employer. We sent him a sample Letter of Demand to adapt to his circumstances. Following this Letter of Demand, Paul could bring a civil claim in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or the state’s Magistrate’s Court to get access to money that he is owed.
We acknowledged that if Paul was not able to get in contact with the individual and had no further contact details, then it might be difficult to file a claim or to send a Letter of Demand. We suggested that he try running some internet searches on the contact mobile number that he has to see if it is connected with any businesses. He could then search for the business on the ASIC register. Alternatively, he could return to the place where he was working for the two days, to try and see if he can get more information about the person who hired him.
We told Paul that once he is successful in tracking down the person who employed him, he could also contact the Victorian Gig Worker Support Service for further support, or the Victorian Small Business Commission who may be able to assist Paul with mediation on his issue.
Diana has been doing food delivery gig work on the side of her regular 9-to-5 job as a regional sales person. Because her regular job provides a vehicle for her use and Diana doesn’t have a personal car, she has been using her business vehicle to make these food deliveries. Her employer has recently found out, and has demanded that Diana cease using the company car for food deliveries, and has also demanded that she pay them the $6,500 that she has earned so far – or else risk losing her car and the job.
JobWatch discussed with Diana that her employer’s directions to cease using the company car for food deliveries would come down to any terms in her contract and/or company policies which might dictate how and when company cars can be used for personal use. If the terms and conditions of use of company cars aren’t clear, we explained to Diana that it might come down to whether her employer’s directions are ‘lawful and reasonable’, which would only be tested in a legal claim.
We further explained that there is no legal claim on her employer’s part to her gig work earnings, and that if she was to lose her car or job, or experience any other adverse action due to refusal to pay these earnings, she could be eligible to make an unfair dismissal claim.
We sent Diana relevant Fact Sheets on these issues, and referred her to the Law Institute of Victoria’s Legal Referral Service to find a lawyer to interpret her contract.
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