In Ontario, if your boss refuses to pay the minimum wage or violates your other employment rights, you can go to court or contact the Ministry of Labour. But can your boss make you sign an agreement to give up that right?
On November 6, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the case of Uber drivers who were forced to accept a “mandatory arbitration agreement” when they signed up to be drivers on the Uber app. According to Uber, this means that the drivers have given up the right to complain to the government if they have any disputes with the company. Instead, they must go before a private decision-maker in Amsterdam – in a process that is both secret and expensive.
The Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) and Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS) have teamed up to intervene in the case to argue that the workers’ right to seek justice in our public institutions cannot be signed away or privatized. Otherwise, employers may be able to sidestep Ontario’s laws that guarantee workplace rights.
The consequences of mandatory arbitration agreements would be serious, especially for low-wage precarious workers. These workers are already more likely to experience illegal working conditions and are also more likely to find it difficult to navigate the legal system. If they are shut out from our public institutions and forced into the unfamiliar world of private arbitration, where the laws of Ontario may not be applied, they will be left even more vulnerable.
For more information on this case, read our blog post about the decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, which is being appealed to the Supreme Court.
Watch it live!
On Wednesday, November 6, 2019, you can watch ISAC’s lawyer Nabila Qureshi argue at the Supreme Court that employers should not be permitted to impose mandatory arbitration agreements on their workers.
You can live-stream it here, starting at 9:30 AM EST.
To read our legal argument, click here.