Judge finds NYC Uber drivers to be employees

Uber X from the backseat

 

From the Albany Times Union, Matthew Hamilton reports on a decision by an administrative law judge that allows Uber drivers to collect unemployment benefits.  Matthew writes:

A state administrative law judge has ruled that three Uber drivers in New York City and “all others similarly situated” to them are considered employees, making them eligible for unemployment benefits.

Yet Judge Michelle Burrowes did not define “similarly situated” drivers, which has created a dispute over whether Uber drivers across New York would be affected. A spokesman for the state Department of Labor did not immediately comment.

 As both sides of the case are left to interpret if and how the vague “similarly situated” language applies to Uber drivers across the city, the New York City-based Taxi Workers Alliance, which is one of the parties that brought the case on behalf of the three drivers, is claiming that the decision most certainly should apply to Uber drivers upstate and on Long Island, with the first trips in those areas set to begin on June 29.
Uber contests that interpretation.

The company plans to appeal the decision, which extends back to Jan. 1, 2014, and litigation in the case is unlikely to end in the near future.

“We are confident we will prevail — the Department of Labor has already ruled that several drivers are independent contractors and a federal court has deemed all black car drivers to be independent contractors,” Uber spokeswoman Alix Anfang said.

The case may have great consequence to drivers and Uber.

The case may have great consequence to drivers and Uber.

Whether ride-hailing companies and drivers have an employer-employee relationship has been litigated in courts in New York and elsewhere. Uber and other companies say the drivers who use their app platforms are independent contractors, which would mean they are not entitled to certain benefits that employees of a company are, such as unemployment insurance.

 But Burrowes’ decision, which speaks only to Uber and no other companies, outlines what she believes are various aspects of the driver-company relationship that make drivers more than just independent contractors.

“Uber did not employ an arms’ length approach to the claimants as would typify an independent contractor agreement,” she wrote.

Source: Judge finds NYC Uber drivers to be employees; upstate impact debated – Times Union

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