On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled in favor of New York Uber and Lyft drivers fighting for unemployment benefits.
What We Know:
- The New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA) sued the state in May after a group of Lyft and Uber drivers faced months of delay for their unemployment payments. The lawsuit says that these drivers had to wait 10 weeks just to receive the minimum weekly unemployment rate of $180 for independent contractors, whereas employees just had to wait three weeks to receive a weekly rate of $504.
- Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall issued a preliminary injunction in favor of the drivers, meaning the state must immediately start paying unemployment benefits to these drivers even while appeals and litigation continue. The judge’s ruling also called out Uber and Lyft for not immediately providing driver earnings data, causing the claims to slow down. A New York Department of Labor spokesperson commented that the department will be “reviewing the decision and considering all of our options. Regardless, the Department of Labor has been providing benefits to rideshare drivers in New York and is committed to continuing that support.”
- Rideshare drivers have engaged in a long battle with Uber, Lyft and governments to be viewed as employees so they can receive proper benefits. According to the NYTWA, Uber and Lyft’s lobbying efforts are why drivers are designated as independent contractors by the government and don’t receive the same benefits and protections as other employees. Uber claims that drivers like being independent contractors because they can work when they want and earn more money without regulation from unions or employment laws.
Last year, California required “gig companies” like rideshares to recognize their workers as employees. So far, Uber and Lyft have spent $110 million to promote Prop. 22, a California ballot measure this November to reclassify gig workers as independent contractors.