Maurice Blackburn Lawyers says more than 6000 people have joined the action, covering drivers across Victoria, NSW, Queensland, and Western Australia.
It alleges Uber’s operations in Australia were illegal because the company knew its drivers were not properly licensed and did not have proper accreditation.
“Make no mistake, this will be a landmark case regarding the alleged illegal operations of Uber in Australia and the devastating impact that has had on the lives of hard-working and law-abiding citizens here,” Maurice Blackburn’s national head of class actions Andrew Watson said.
“It is not acceptable for a business to place itself above the law and operate illegally to the disadvantage of others.”
The class action alleges Uber adopted a program to avoid enforcement activities, and as a result, had an unfair competitive advantage against taxi and hire care operators and drivers who did comply with the law.
“Uber Inc adopted a policy to operate in any market where the regulator had tacitly approved doing so by failing to take direct enforcement action, effectively in complete disregard for any regulations which existed,” a summary of the class action’s pleadings said.
The class action’s lead plaintiff and taxi driver from the inner-Melbourne suburb of Brunswick, Nick Andrianakis, says Uber took away his livelihood.
“My father owned and drove cabs, so it’s been an industry and job that’s in my blood and that I’ve loved my whole life–then suddenly that was all taken away because of the impact of Uber’s illegal activities,” he said.
“I can clearly remember the day it all became too much–I just stopped driving that day and had to go home to be with my wife. It’s a shocking thing to think of a life’s work being stripped away from you, but this is what’s happened to thousands of people nationwide.”
An Uber spokeswoman said the company had not received any notification of a class action.
“Over 3.8 million Australians regularly use Uber as a reliable choice to get from A to B and governments across the country have recognised ridesharing as part of the transport mix,” she said.
“We are focusing our efforts on delivering a great service to riders and drivers in the cities where we operate.”
The class action was filed in the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday, with the costs of the case underwritten by a third party litigation funder.