In a decision of December 31st, the court of Bologna, city of central Italy, defined Deliveroo’s “reputation classification” ordered by an algorithm as “discriminatory”. Against whom, against what? This algorithm, called Frank, would not distinguish between a delivery person (also known as a driver) exercising his right to strike or sickness and another, inefficient one, who delivers more cold pizzas than hot pizzas. “For the first time in Europe, a judge has found that Frank is blind and therefore indifferent to the needs of deliverers who are not machines but workers with rights,” says Tania Scacchetti, Confederal Secretary of the CGIL union who carried the case. By classifying deliverers based on their reputation and performance, the algorithm does not take into account the nuances of a punctual lack of efficiency. So in the same way he degrades a delivery man who would not do his job for some trivial reason, as a sick delivery man or on strike.
The Court notes that “the platform is very good at getting rid of the blindfold if it wants, which leaves it blind or unconscious in relation to the reasons for a lack of work for a delivery man. If not, it’s because she chose it voluntarily. “This is an historic victory for the social rights of the self-employed in the gig economy as Uber, Deliveroo and other delivery companies want to thwart any attempt at legislation in Europe that would force them to re-qualify workers. . It also intervenes in the context of the pandemic, which has increased the pressure on deliverers by giving home delivery a central place in everyday life.
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Overall, the court asked Deliveroo to pay applicants € 50,000 in damages (in addition to their legal costs) but also to publish the decision on its website. Deliveroo, meanwhile, wanted to defend itself against the Bologna Court charges, and sent TechCrunch an official statement claiming that the targeted rating system was not used in Italy or any other market. “Cyclists have full flexibility to decide when to work, where to work, as little or as long as they want. This means there is no reservation system and no obligation to accept work, ”reads the statement, which conflicts with the Court’s outcome.
Ansa, an Italian news agency, which received a statement from the CEO of Deliveroo in Italy, insists that the platform’s “reputation ranking” was used until last November. However, without relying on specific cases, the decision of the Court of Bologna is based on the algorithm and the general functioning of the classification and applies to all deliverers without distinction. This is what Matteo Sarzana, National Director of Deliveroo, criticizes: “The accuracy of our old system is confirmed by the fact that no case of objective and real discrimination occurred during the process. The decision is based solely on a hypothetical and potential assessment with no concrete evidence. For all of these reasons, the company considered an appeal.