According to one of New York City’s leading taxi worker groups, New York state is falling short on delivering unemployment benefits to hundreds of app-based for-hire drivers, including those who work for Uber and Lyft.
The New York Taxi Worker Alliance filed documents in Brooklyn federal court on January 5, claiming at least 497 of its members had yet to receive unemployment payments the state claims to have fulfilled in December.
The group’s director, Bhairavi Desai, released the following statement: “The reality is drivers should have been paid the right amounts months ago when they first filed for unemployment.” The Department of Labor, however, declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.
Rideshare drivers are accusing the state of dragging its feet on delivering payments owed to drivers after a judge ruled that Uber and Lyft drivers are eligible for COVID-19 jobless benefits. Drivers classified as “self-employed” or “for-hire” receive significantly less from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program than full-time employees.
Previously, state official told the court that 4,520 outstanding claims would be paid out by December 14, but the state still has yet to provide many of those workers with retroactive payments. Some are owed as much as $8,000.
The court filing statements the most significant problem is “when DOL fails to increase claimants’ benefit rates for prior weeks, while nonetheless increasing their benefit rate for all later weeks.”
In an interview with the NY Post, an out-of-work driver, Helal Uddin, 37, said “I tried to contact a lot of times, but no one answered the phone. One or two hours I wait on the line, but nobody answers me. Today I called, automatic hang-up. I’m not driving because I don’t have money to fix my car, [pay] the TLC, a lot of things. A lot of my friends are going to work, but in 12 hours of work not making like $80. People don’t have money to use taxis or Uber.” Uddin is currently owed nearly $4,000 in back payments.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on the rideshare industry, it’s important for drivers and passengers to understand their legal rights and options. For passengers involved in an Uber or Lyft accident, this can be an overwhelming and confusing time. If you need legal guidance, the Rideshare Law Group is here for you. Contact us today for more information.