Upwork Resentment and disputes between you and Upwork. How to win a dispute against Upwork

Disputing against Upwork

Unfortunately, you may find yourself in the position where you are treated unfairly by Upwork whether in conducting business together or had your user account closed or suspended by them. Account suspension by Upwork could result in the lockdown and loss of money in your account.

If you are confident that your Upwork account has been unfairly suspended by Upwork then you will have no other option but to open a complaint ticket prior to initiating a dispute.

How to open a complaint ticket on Upwork? A complaint ticket can be opened on the Upwork support center to appeal the suspension of your account noting that unless you have strong evidence, your chances of removing the suspension are low.

If you have a substantial amount of money on your account, and could not reopen your account by raising a complaint ticket, then you have no other option but to initiate a dispute. Similarly, if you are in business with Upwork, you will have to initiate a dispute.

So, how to open a dispute against Upwork? To start and open a dispute against Upwork, you have to send an official notice of dispute by e-mail to [email protected] from your registered E-mail address or by writing to their San Francisco address.

What are the estimated fees for arbitration against Upwork? For freelancers located in the USA, the fees of arbitration against Upwork are the lesser of $250 or the fees to be paid if the case is raised in court by the freelancer.

We have also reviewed the Jamsadr.com dispute resolution platform which is the platform used by Upwork and other companies such as Shein and Fiverrr, for resolving claims and disputes. You can read it at Your Quick Guide to JAMS ADR Platform: Mediation, Arbitration, and Dispute Resolution Services. You might encounter these platforms if you are taking a company into arbitration for issues related to the right to repair and company limitations.

Causes for a dispute between you and Upwork

The main reason for a dispute between you and Upwork will be the suspension of your account and the inability to withdraw funds. There are many reasons that may entitle Upwork to suspend your account. There are at least 16 main categories and 30 sub-categories that allow Upwork to suspend your account.

We have gone through Upwrok’s terms and conditions and community forms to summarize the main reasons and most common provisions used by Upwork to justify the suspension of your account.

  1. Seeking and supporting activities or services that promot harmeful and lawful activities such as
    • Discriminatory, obscene, and activity that supports child exploitation.
    • Violation of intellectual property “IP”.
    • Assist in cheating or academic ghost writing.
    • Spread of “fake news” and misinformation.
  2. Fraudulent or misleading uses or content
    • Manipulating the hours worked.
    • Misrepresenting your skills and experience.
    • Using a fake profile photo.
    • Allowing others to use your account.
  3. All kinds of spamming
  4. Requesting free services
  5. Tampering with Upwork services source code.

There are many other indirect reasons that may cause Upwork to suspend your account. For example, your account can be dormant for a long period of time and when you sign in, Upwork’s “AI” or “security measures” marks your access as fraudulent behavior. This also applies for many other reasons, usually unintentional by you.

A common issue is Upwork AI and security systems marking your unclear photo or lack of access as fradulent beahviour.

So, if you have money your account and received an account suspension that you believe is unfair (ie you did not commit a breach of the terms of service) then you are only left with two options:

How to open a dispute against Upwork

The chances to resolve the account suspension by customer services are low. The only chance your case fets resolved depends if the person reviewing your case is not just an “AI” and is competent enough and willing to go through details.

Otherwise, you will have to open a dispute against Upwork.

For other kinds of disputes, such as those against clients, you will have to settle them within the Upwork platform and as explained briefly below.

For other platforms, please see our article on Freelancer.com,

Dispute process and arbitration against Upwork

When customer service fails and a dispute arises between you and Upwork you will have to attempt to resolve the dispute amicably within 60 Days after issuing your notice.

If no agreement is reached then you will have to resort to arbitration or court.

Keep in mind that the rules and options differ a bit if you are located outside of the United States. Therefore, always note the following:

Governing law

Any claim and dispute will be governed by the laws of the State of Deleware, USA. However, any Claims and disputes by any Freelancer located in the United States will be governed by the state in which the Freelancer lives.

This means that for users out of the US, your claims will be governed by the laws of the state of Deleware. You do not have the option of arbitration via jamsadr.com.

This is a sneaky move by Upwork, more about it in the below sections.

Sending a Notice of Claim against Upwork

Before demanding arbitration of your claim (future dispute), you first have to notify Upwork of the existence of your claim. Similarly, Upwork has to send you a notification in case they have a Claim against you.

To send a notice of claim to Upwork, issue an E-mail to [email protected] via your account e-mail address. You can also send it by writing at “Attn: Legal, 655 Montgomery ST STE 490, DPT 17022, San Francisco, CA 94111-2676.

Make sure to use the word “Notice” in the subject of your e-mail or letter!

Binding Arbitration for USA Upwork users

This section is only applicable for users outside of the United States and its territories.

If you are unable to reach for an amicable solution within 60 days for the issuance (or receipt) of the notice of claim, then as per the terms and conditions, you have to go for binding arbitration before an arbitrator from JAMS instead of Court or Jury.

Make sure you issued the “Notice” of Claim correctly. You do not want to be dragged to legalities and nuisance if you did not issued the correct notice format.

Since this is a binding arbitration clause, you need to learn more and understand binding arbitration. We have a clear explanation on this topic at What is Binding Arbitration? Is it better than Court?

What is the location of arbitration with Upwork?

The location of arbitration is in Santa Clara County, California in accordance with the JAMS Comprehensive Arbitration Rules.

If the Claim is related to employment or worker classification disputes, the arbitration will be conducted in the state and within 25 miles of where Freelancer is located in accordance with the JAMS Employment Arbitration Rules.

What are the arbitration fees?

The user will pay the lesser of $250 or JAMS arbitration fees based on what would have been paid if the case was raised in the user’s state.

Any difference shall be paid by Upwork.

Can I opt out of Upwork arbitration requirement in the USA?

You can opt-out of the Upwork requirement for binding arbitration by sending an official notification in WRITING within 30 days from the date of registration on Upwork.

You can also send your notice by e-mail to [email protected].

To correctly opt-out of the arbitration clause, your notice must include the following:

  • Account username
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your Telephone number
  • Your e-mail address.
  • A statememt stating that you wish to opt out of the Arbitration Provision.

Disputing Freelancers with Upwork Out of the USA

For freelancers out of the USA, you will have to follow the laws and regulations of the state of Delaware. Unfortunately, this severely hinders your ability to dispute against work and will be extremely costly.

Your best option is to try your best to strongly present your case while discussing it with Upwork after serving your notice of claim.

It will be extremely costly and time-consuming to sue them if you are out of the United States. Unless there is a substantial amount of money involved, you do not have other options but to accept the outcomes of your negotiations.

How to present my dispute to Upwork?

Like any claim, you have to present it in a proper and direct way. This should include, at least, the following:

  1. Summary of your account information such as name, E-mail,..etc.
  2. A brief description of the claim, this includes:
    • The causes, supported by evidence such as screenshots and e-mails.
    • The effects.
    • All relevant communication of the subject of claim. You have to provide all the evidence possible to justify your statements.
    • What excatly you are requesting and why.
  3. Your contact information.

As stated earlier, whether you are in the US or outside, you have 60 days to settle the claim informally before proceeding into litigation or arbitration.

Tip: You can request an extension of the 60 days period if you need more time later on.

Chances for winning disputes against Upwork and is it worth it?

The chances of winning a dispute against Upwork in the US are much higher than if you are out of the US. This is because you have more control over the costs which are estimated to be $250 or less in contrary to those out of the US.

If you are in the US, you have the option of opting out of arbitration into litigation. However, keep in mind that you have to issue a notice on this subject within 30 days of your registration.

Most probably, you did not think of such notice or even considered looking for it while registering. Unless you are a seasoned lawyer with experience in these issues, you will most likely have to go for arbitration

If you are out of the US, you do not have the option of arbitration.

Is the dispute with Upwork worth my time and money?

If you are located in the United States and have a good amount of money “locked” because of a dispute with Upwork, then it is worth the time and money.

You may attempt to resolve it informally within the 60 days period from your notice, however, if you sense the situation going south, do not hesitate to contact a lawyer or arbitrator on this subject.

If you are out of the United States, it is not worth it if the disputed amount is small. For large sums of money, work on your presence in the United States and contact a lawyer BEFORE issuing a notice so that the lawyer can guide you early on.


Avid reader and practitioner of alternative dispute resolution methods.

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