Popular ride-hailing app Uber has lost a court battle on Friday to stop the Transport for London’s (TfL) plans to introduce English language tests for private hire drivers. The company argued that the standard was too high and would lead to “indirect racial discrimination.”
Uber launched legal action in August alongside three of its drivers. Uber’s lawyers argued that the language requirement would contribute to 70,000 applications failing to obtain a license over the next three years. However, Judge John Mitting rejected the claim and ruled that TfL was "entitled to require private hire drivers to demonstrate English compliance".
Uber said it would appeal against the ruling.
This is the latest in a string of setbacks for the firm. In October, a British tribunal ruled that the company should treat its drivers as workers and pay them minimum wage and holiday pay. While earlier this week, video emerged of chief executive Travis Kalanick arguing heatedly with a driver about fares, and Uber was forced to open an investigation into sexual harassment and discrimination claims by a former employee.
There was one positive to take away from the court hearing. They managed to overturn another TfL proposal that called for drivers to have permanent private hire insurance and for Uber to operate a 24/7 call center. Judge Mitting said there was no need to duplicate Uber’s current system for non-urgent inquiries, but TfL is entitled to force them to set up a hotline for emergency calls.
Self Driving Permit
In other news, Uber has announced it will cooperate with California regulators as it seeks to restart its driverless car trials in the state. The company became embroiled in a legal spat with state officials in December after launching its self-driving pilot programme without state permission.
The state requires that any company testing self-driving vehicles on public roads receive a permit. More than 20 companies have already obtained California DMV permits, including Google, Tesla Motors and Ford. Uber argued that it was breaking no rules because its cars were not fully autonomous and required "active physical control or monitoring.” As a result, Uber decided to test its XC90s in nearby Arizona instead, where companies are not required to obtain any special permits for self-driving cars.
California's DMV confirmed this week it had held discussions with Uber about its application for the permit. Uber has not yet formally submitted the application, DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez said.
The global market for autonomous/driverless cars is a highly competitive one. Accuray Research are forecasting it to grow at a CAGR of around 15.6% over the next decade to reach approximately $41.7 billion by 2025.
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