Uber and Lyft drivers win battle over unpaid unemployment benefits

It is the latest development in a protracted labor rights battle among so-called workers that seeks to be classified as employees to secure benefits such as employer-funded health care and sick leave. Many tech companies, including Uber and Lyft, argue that their workers are independent contractors.

Court records show New York drivers – Md Islam, Doh Ottara, Abdul Raman and Harnek Singh – were filed for unemployment in March, when the city emerged as an early US nuisance in the Kovid-19 epidemic.

Judge Lahan DeArcy Hall issued an early injunction in favor of the drivers on Tuesday morning. His ruling required the state’s labor department to send full unemployment payments to the drivers to which they are entitled, while their case moves through the court.

The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, a labor rights group, filed a lawsuit in May on behalf of drivers after the state failed to send the drivers the full unemployment payment amount state employees were entitled to.

NYTWA told CNN Business that Uber and Lyft’s lobbyists first persuaded the state’s Department of Labor to file their rideshare drivers for federal unemployment benefits designated for independent contractors rather than designated benefits for employees .

Drivers say they have been forced to wait longer to receive a lower unemployment check under the federal unemployment program to fix their rate of benefits rather than the gross rate employees receive Uses workers’ net earnings. As a result, most Uber and Lyft drivers have to wait 10 weeks to achieve a minimum weekly unemployment rate of $ 180 for independent contractors, instead of just three weeks for a maximum rate of $ 504 per week for employees, according to NYTWA Has been forced.

In his ruling, Judge Hall stated that the state labor department’s denial or delay in unemployment benefits “is sufficient to establish irreparable damage to the plaintiff.”

The Taxi Workers Alliance celebrated the ruling on Tuesday afternoon. “We are very happy,” NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai told CNN Business. “There is no question that justice has long been delayed, but we are thrilled that it has finally arrived.”

A spokesman for the state Department of Labor said it was “reviewing the decision and considering all our options.”

“Regardless, the Department of Labor is providing benefits to rideshare drivers in New York and is committed to continuing that support,” the spokesman said.

Uber and Lyft are two gig companies that spent a combined $ 110 million promoting the California Ballot initiative known as Prop-22, which will be on the ballot of California voters in November. The measure, after passing a law last year by state lawmakers, would reclassify gig-app workers as independent contractors, because last year gig companies were required to identify their employees as employees.

Uber told CNN Business that its drivers prefer being classified as independent contractors because it allows them to work when they want, rather than on a schedule set by their employer. The company also said that independent drivers could potentially make more money without wage limits set by unions and employment laws.


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