Uber and Lyft drivers sue New York
Drivers from Uber and Lyft are suing New York state for refusing or delaying unemployment payments.
Sonia Moghe reported the news for CNN:
A federal lawsuit alleges that New York State has refused to pay or has delayed the payment of unemployment benefits to drivers for for-hire-vehicle apps like Uber and Lyft for two months.
“The (Department of Labor’s) failure to do so in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the difference between receiving [unemployment insurance] benefits in two weeks rather than two months can determine whether an unemployed New Yorker can put food on the table, is devastating to thousands of drivers and their families, the overwhelming majority of whom are immigrants,” the complaint reads.
The complaint cites previous legal decisions that determined drivers for rideshare apps to be “employees” as opposed to “independent contractors” in the eyes of the law. Independent contractors have to prove their earnings and employment status. While a 2018 Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board determined that app-based drivers are employees under law, there is still a case related to this issue pending in an Upstate appeals court.
Reuters’ Daniel Wiessner wrote:
Four drivers for Uber Technologies Inc and Lyft Inc have filed a lawsuit against New York State claiming they were unlawfully deemed independent contractors and denied unemployment benefits after their work dried up amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The drivers and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance (TWA), which represents 23,000 drivers in New York City, filed a complaint in Brooklyn federal court on Monday saying the denial of benefits goes against the state Department of Labor’s own precedent finding that drivers for ride-hailing services are employees for the purposes of unemployment insurance.
Marc DeAngelis from Engadget reported:
Typically, employers provide the state government with data on employees’ earnings. However, according to the lawsuit, New York has not compelled Uber or Lyft to do so. This means that in order to qualify for benefits, the drivers themselves have to supply that information, fill out more paperwork and take more steps than a typical worker. One driver says he’s had to make hundreds of calls and still hasn’t received any payment. If successful, the lawsuit will force the government to provide benefits to drivers — the plaintiffs and rideshare drivers at large — immediately.