KUALA LUMPUR | The High Court dismissed today an e-hailer’s judicial review application seeking the right to be heard before the Industrial Court for unfair dismissal.
Judge Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid delivered his oral ruling online after hearing submissions last month.
The applicant, Loh Guet Ching, filed a claim for unfair dismissal at the industrial relations department seeking reinstatement.
The human resources minister in exercising his discretion, however, declined to refer the matter to the Industrial Court.
Loh, represented by Ng Kian Nam, filed a judicial review application seeking to quash the minister’s decision and that her matter be referred to the Industrial Court.
Ng submitted that Loh had the right of recourse and the minister should have referred the matter to the Industrial Court.
MyTeksi Sdn Bhd, operating in the name of Grab, said e-hailing drivers were not employees within the strict definition of the Industrial Relations Act 1967.
Lawyer T Thavalingam had submitted that their contract was essentially a commercial agreement and the minister was correct in not referring the matter to the Industrial Court.
Thavalingam, who was assisted by Rebecca Sonali Alfred, said the minister took the position that Loh’s case did not satisfy the threshold requirements.
Loh relied on the recent UK Supreme Court case of “Uber BV and others v Aslam and others” that e-hailing drivers were employees.
Meanwhile, My Teksi relied on a New Zealand case where the employment court ruled that e-hailing drivers were not employees.
Federal counsel Adiba Iman Md Hassan represented the minister.
It was reported early this year that Loh had reported Grab to the industrial relations department for unfair removal from the platform.
She alleged that she was blocked from driving on the platform operated by MyTeksi Sdn Bhd over a dispute with a passenger at the Senai airport in Johor last November.
She said the passenger booked two vehicles on the “Just Grab” tier, the cheapest on the platform, although there were seven of them each with a bag.
“I told them I could only take three passengers with their three pieces of luggage; anything else would be an overload, but they were upset because they wanted another family member to also hop into my car.
“The other Grab driver had apparently told the fourth passenger to ride in my vehicle because his car was smaller than mine.
“But I refused. The passengers were unhappy and they scolded me until I dropped them off at their home,” Loh was quoted as saying.
Loh asserted that the dispute was made known to Grab via social media, after which her account was suspended.