App-based taxi service Uber has been ordered to pay up to 20 million euros ($21.7 million) compensation to drivers in the French city of Lyon, their lawyer Stephane Teyssier said on Friday.
The court ruled on the basis of a Court of Cassation decision from January 2020 that Uber drivers should be considered as employees rather than as self-employed.
“Uber was ordered to amend the contracts of 139 drivers at a cost of 17 to 20 million euros,” Teyssier told AFP.
“A penalty on that scale is exceptional in France,” he added.
The US firm, which has some 30,000 drivers using its platform in France, told AFP it intended to appeal.
Drivers in Lyon, France’s third largest city, had taken the ride-hailing taxi giant before an employment tribunal to have their work relationship reclassified as an employment contract.
This is the latest in several setbacks of its kind for Uber.
In March 2021, Britain’s Supreme Court also classified Uber drivers as employees, rejecting the Silicon Valley company’s contention that the drivers should be categorised as self-employed.
An Uber spokesman told AFP on Friday it rejected the French employment tribunal’s decision.
“This decision goes against the widely shared view of labour courts and appeal courts that drivers using the (Uber) app are self-employed,” he said.
“Drivers have no obligation to work, are not exclusively tied to Uber and are entirely free to organise their work as they choose,” he said.