Public Defender Establishes Discrimination against Bolt Couriers on Strike

On June 14, 2021, the Public Defender addressed Foodl (Bolt) Ltd with a recommendation on the elimination of discrimination against couriers on strike on the ground of different opinion. The interests of the couriers were represented in the Public Defender's Office by the Young Lawyers Association.

The Public Defender was applied by the Bolt's couriers, who pointed out that the company terminated labour relations with them and restricted their access to the application due to the organization of a protest rally to protect their labour rights.

In a position presented to the Public Defender, Bolt noted that the legal relations between the company and the applicants were regulated not by an employment but partnership agreement. In addition, according to the respondent, the partner couriers were blocked not for expressing protest, but for participating in organized activities, which hindered the activities of the partner restaurants of Bolt Food.

On the basis of the above decision, the Public Defender had to investigate whether there was an employment relationship between the company and the couriers and whether the termination of this relationship was caused by the protest expressed by the couriers.

Based on the latest standards set by international institutions and various jurisdictions, the Public Defender established that individuals working through the platform, including Bolt couriers, were in a labour relationship with the company and therefore had the right to use guarantees under the labour law.

As for the restriction of the applicants' access to the application, the Public Defender considered that the measure represented the termination of employment on the ground of the expression of protest by the couriers.

Therefore, the Public Defender addressed Bolt with a recommendation to immediately restore the applicants' access to the application; The standard set by the recommendation should also be extended to all couriers who, due to protest, had their access to the application suspended, wish to regain access, but have not applied to the Public Defender of Georgia. The Public Defender also addressed the company not to allow discriminatory treatment due to different opoinion and/or other grounds in labour relations in the future and to conduct it sactivities in accordance with the principle of equality, including by ensuring compliance of internal organizational acts and policies with the Law of Georgia on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.

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