Nearly one thousand drivers for the rideshare app Via are claiming they were falsely promised big earnings. Now, the drivers have taken the dispute to court.
More than 800 drivers for the New York-based company are claiming Via wrongly classified them as independent contractors as a way to deny them higher pay and job protections like health benefits and paid time off.
That dispute that’s been filed is similar to the ones against Uber and Lyft—who have both fought against efforts to have to legally consider their drivers employees who receive benefits.
The claim is alleging that Via advertised high earning for those who signed up to drive, but failed to clarify how much the job would cost drivers. According to two workers who are participating in the recent Manhattan Supreme Court filing, they earned less than minimum wage.
One of the drivers, Gideon Itenberg of Queens, claimed he earned only $4.69 for Via after taxes and costs, which is well below the $15 minimum wage in New York City. He originally signed up for Via in November 2017. According to Itenberg, Via never explained the “multitude of fees and costs that Via either refused to pay for, passed on to me [to] cover or deducted from my earnings.” The other driver, Felix Lam, says he earned between $9 and $11 an hour for Via.
Both drivers are claiming Via forced them to agree to arbitrate any dispute behind closed doors but wants each driver to pay at least $17,000 in fees first. Marc Held, an attorney noted in the legal filing, said, “Via refuses to submit to arbitration, refuses to pay the costs to commence arbitration, and … the costs of arbitration are intentionally, absurdly, and unnecessarily high compared to nearly any alternative.”
Via operates in more than 20 counties and partners with schools and governments to provide transportation. The company, however, is refusing to let drivers band together to fight their claims and reduce costs. The drivers are looking to have Via pay the arbitration costs or for a judge to let them pursue their claims together or in a different forum.
Via has yet to release an official statement regarding the lawsuit.