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European Lawsuit Accuses Uber of “Robo-Firing” Drivers

Written by: Richard Sheinis, Esq.

A lawsuit has been filed with a court in the Netherlands challenging Uber’s alleged practice of using automated systems to identify fraudulent activity and terminate drivers based on that process, also known as “Robo-Firing”. This practice, which Uber denies, would potentially violate Article 22 of the GDPR.  Article 22 protects data subjects against being “subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal affects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.”  The lawsuit was brought in the Netherlands because that is Uber’s European base.

The lawsuit alleges that Uber drivers in the UK and Portugal were accused of fraudulent activity based on information in Uber’s systems, and they were not given the right of appeal.  The drivers allege they were never provided access to the purported evidence against them, nor were they allowed the opportunity to challenge their termination.  Uber, in its defense, states that specialist staff review the evidence of alleged fraudulent activity prior to any drivers being terminated.

In some cases, Uber drivers contend they only found out they were terminated when they went to work and could not log on to the Uber system.  They allege Uber has not responded to their attempts to find out what they had done that was supposedly fraudulent.

In the age of AI, we are bound to see more and more decisions of various types being made pursuant to automated processing.  This is the biggest case that has reached the courts that will have Article 22 implications for how businesses can use AI to make personnel decisions.