In New York, rideshare drivers are considered employees by the lawmakers of the state, even though Uber and Lyft label their workers as contractors. Because New York considers rideshare drivers employees, this means they should be entitled to certain benefits—including unemployment. With the number of unemployment claims rising due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many NY rideshare drivers are finding it hard to receive those benefits.
Now, a federal lawsuit alleges that the state of New York has refused to pay or has delayed the payment of unemployment benefits for drivers of companies like Uber and Lyft for the past two months. According to CNN, the participating drivers and their legal counsel are alleging that the gray area between contractor and employee is what the state is using to hold up unemployment payments.
The drivers’ complaint is also alleging that a number of drivers who submitted their earnings information to the Department of Labor were told they would be awarded $0 in unemployment benefits.
According to the complaint, “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 lawsuit was filed on May 25 in the Eastern District of New York. It was brought forward by four drivers and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state’s Department of Labor, and its commissioner.
In response to the lawsuit, Governor Cuomo’s office said that app-based rideshare workers are receiving unemployment benefits via Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. However, they did not specify how many drivers had received benefits since the assistance became available. In addition to that, a spokesman from the office said the administration is working with all parties to make sure it has the information needed to deliver unemployment benefits to drivers and others as quickly as possible.
For more information on the latest rideshare news, click here to visit our blog. If you have a legal question regarding a potential rideshare personal injury claim, contact our office today. The Rideshare Law Group is dedicated to helping rideshare accident victims nationwide. We can expedite your recovery and ensure you have the funds you need to get your life back in order.