Uber drivers in Washington state gain appeal rights under first-in-nation agreement

September 25, 2023

TUMWATER — Uber drivers now have access to a fair and timely process to appeal decisions by Uber to suspend or remove access to its app.

That’s thanks to a new, groundbreaking agreement between Uber and the Driver Resource Center, which represents drivers.

When a driver loses access to a transportation network company’s platform, it’s called a deactivation, and it can significantly impact their livelihood. Companies can block drivers if they believe the driver violated company rules. Lesser violations can lead to a temporary halt, while a serious violation can result in permanent removal.

To ensure rideshare drivers have an expedited process to get back to work when they are wrongly deactivated, Washington law now requires all transportation network companies to enter into an agreement with the Driver Resource Center to ensure a fair appeals process.

On Sept. 11, L&I approved the first state-regulated deactivation appeals process agreement in the nation. The agreement between Uber and the Driver Resource Center impacts an estimated 35,000 Uber drivers in Washington. It is a first-of–its-kind pact between a transportation network company and the Driver Resource Center.

“Many drivers rely on these rides for their livelihood, and when they can’t access the platform, they can’t provide for themselves and their families,” said Celeste Monahan, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention and Labor Standards division. “This agreement upholds the rights drivers were granted by the Legislature and guarantees access to an expedited appeals process.”

“Uber’s policy helps ensure the safety and integrity of our platform and upholds fairness and transparency for drivers,” said Camiel Irving, head of US Mobility for Uber Technologies, Inc. “We appreciate the collaboration with the Drivers Union of Washington and L&I on a clear and equitable path to appeal, empowering drivers to have their concerns addressed.”

"This victory for just cause protections and labor rights was clinched by the Uber drivers on our bargaining committee," said Peter Kuel, Drivers Union president. "Drivers who had experienced unwarranted deactivation led our negotiations to ensure the end of arbitrary terminations and the right to prompt appeals."

Agreement details appeals process

Uber drivers can file appeals through the Driver Resource Center if they lose access for three or more days.

They cannot appeal a deactivation that was the result of sexual harassment, sexual assault, physical assault, discrimination, harassment, fraud, or driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Under the agreement, both sides agree to attempt to informally resolve the issue within 30 days of an appeal. If that is unsuccessful, there is a formal process that requires the company show just cause and provides for third-party dispute resolution.

It also requires Uber to respond within two weeks to driver requests for information about their deactivations, and gives drivers the right to collect lost earnings if they win their appeal.

“We are proud to approve the first-in-the-nation agreement for Uber drivers and look forward to receiving agreements from the other transportation network companies operating in Washington,” added Monahan.

The Driver Resource Center provides driver services, outreach, and education across a range of languages and cultures. L&I contracted with Drivers Union to operate the center.

For more information on driver rights, go to L&I’s TNC drivers web page.

For media information:

Jeff Mayor, L&I Public Affairs, 360-999-8920.

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