Uber and Lyft have been in a standoff with California over rideshare drivers’ status. The state has implemented laws to make drivers employees; however, the rideshare companies believe they should remain as contractors. With the coronavirus pandemic, there are now questions regarding who is responsible for helping drivers when there is no work.
Uber and Lyft have been urging drivers nationwide to apply for emergency unemployment benefits that federal legislation set up for the self-employed. In California, however, the state does not consider rideshare drivers to be self-employed.
Fortunately for drivers, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to direct the state’s unemployment agency to help gig workers collect benefits under the federal program. It’s possible, however, that California’s decision could put the state at odds with the rules of the federal program.
According to U.S. Labor Department officials, only workers ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits can receive federal pandemic assistance. With California’s new state law making rideshare drivers employees, they should be able to draw traditional unemployment benefits.
While confusion remains regarding how rideshare drivers in California should seek help during the pandemic, there are ongoing wage claims against Uber and Lyft totaling more than $630 million in lost wages, expenses, and damages.
According to the labor commissioner’s office, it is processing more than 2,600 rideshare driver claims for back wages. While some drivers have already heard back from the commissioner, it’s likely the entire process will take months.
In addition to the overtime pay drivers say they are owed, they are also asking the labor commissioner to order Uber and Lyft to pay them back for business expenses. This includes vehicle mileage, phone bills, monthly car washes, and other customer amenities.
According to one driver, he worked 3,300 hours, including 944 hours of overtime. He is alleging he is owed $125,000, including $40,000 in business expenses—the majority of which was payment for the 66,000 miles he had driven for Uber.
As Uber and Lyft continue to fight back against lawsuits and claims, they are also investing $110 million to advance a ballot measure that could serve as an alternative to the California law that makes gig workers employees. The ballot measure would create a third category of work in between contracting and employment.
For more information on the latest rideshare industry news, check out our blog. If you have a legal question regarding an Uber or Lyft accident, contact a rideshare accident lawyer from the Rideshare Law Group. We represent accident victims on a national level and know how different state laws could impact your claim. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.