Ride-sharing service Uber will for the first time offer drivers in New York who have been kicked off the service the chance to appeal – but there are strings attached.
Uber deactivates its drivers for a multitude of reasons, most famously for having a passenger rating which drops below 4.6 out of five.
Drivers can also be banned for serious misconduct, such as sexual assault.
But the grayer area for drivers is the various other ways you can be deactivated, such as “excessively” cancelling rides or not accepting enough rides.
In some cases, drivers have reported being deactivated after posting disparaging remarks about Uber on social media.
But now an appeals process – for New York City drivers only – will see drivers up against a panel made up of five other Uber drivers.
Here they will be able to appeal deactivations, but only those in that gray area. “Bad” drivers rated poorly by passengers will not be eligible.
The decision is being touted as a “huge win” by the Independent Drivers Guild (IDG), the only workers’ rights group recognised by Uber.
It isn’t, however, a union – as drivers can’t use the group to bargain for better pay or benefits.
Jim Conigliaro, founder of the IDG, told his members in an email that the group was “celebrating another victory”.
“After months of negotiations,” he wrote, “we finally won you the right to a fair deactivation appeal with Uber management.”
Uber did not respond to the BBC’s request for comment other than to point in the direction of its newly set up portal for appeals.
The service has also not yet said whether the same system will be made available to drivers in other cities or countries.
“No deactivation decision is taken lightly or without investigation,” the company wrote on the appeals process web page.
“As such, certain deactivation decisions, especially those related to zero tolerance violations, are not eligible for appeal.
“For example, we will not accept appeals related to criminal activity while on the app, like theft or reckless driving. Likewise, we will not accept appeals related to physical or sexual altercations.”
Drivers with a low passenger rating will also not be considered using this process, Uber said. Drivers kicked off for poor “quality” can undergo a training course which may see their account reactivated.
The so-called “peer panel” of drivers will be jointly picked by IDG and Uber and will be facilitated by the American Arbitration Association.
Uber has tussled with its drivers over workers’ rights in cities all over the world.
In October an employment tribunal in London determined that drivers should get the right to be considered employees – meaning holiday pay, sick leave, paid breaks and other benefits.
A similar row is taking place in various locations in the United States.
Uber, which launched in 2009, is said to be worth more than $60bn based on investments made in the company. It is widely considered to be one of the major tech firms considering going public next year.