February 5, 2020 / 7:06 PM / 2 months ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Uber wins appeal in Brazil, court says drivers are not employees

(Corrects location of court to Brasilia in first paragraph, instead of Sao Paulo state)

SAO PAULO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - A higher court for labor in Brasilia ruled on Wednesday that there was no employment relationship between Uber and its drivers, siding with the ride-hailing company against a Sao Paulo driver.

The judge ruled against recognizing an employer-employee link, arguing that Uber drivers could disconnect at any time from the app and have a flexible work schedule, the court said.

The ruling was welcomed by Uber, which said in a statement it supported dozens of previous decisions in Brazilian courts establishing that its drivers are not employees.

Uber had argued that its platform is a digital intermediary, not an employer, and that drivers accept that condition when they sign on.

Brazil is the second-biggest market for Uber after the U.S., and Sao Paulo is its top city by number of rides, ahead of a metropolis like New York.

The company said the court had recognized the innovative character of its platform that partners with more than 600,000 drivers in over 100 cities in Brazil, serving more than 22 million people who use it app.

The federal labor judge, Breno Medeiros, found that the wide flexibility of the drivers in terms of deciding where they want to drive and the number of customers they serve each day was "incompatible" with an employer-employee relationship.

Medeiros said the take-home pay of drivers from each ride, between 75% and 80% of the total fare, was enough to characterize the relationship with Uber as a partnership. (Reporting by Peter Frontini Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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