Class-action lawsuit says Lyft drivers should be considered employees

Polycount

Posts: 2,395   +541
Staff member

One of the more controversial elements of gig-economy based services like Uber and Lyft is how they employ their workers. The companies don't treat them as employees but as independent contractors.

Uber has been trying to make that a more appealing prospect lately by offering a driver rewards program and free college tuition to its best freelancers, but it's still not an ideal situation for workers. As contractors, they are responsible for financing their own sick leave, paying for their own insurance, and managing their personal tax deductions.

That's why Uber has been embroiled in a now-private legal battle with drivers who wish to be considered full-time employees rather than freelance workers. Now, Lyft is facing a similar legal confrontation, as its drivers have just lodged a lawsuit of their own against the ride-hailing company.

The case -- Wickberg v. Lyft -- is taking place in Massachusetts, as spotted by Ars Technica, and it is being litigated by the same lawyer responsible for the previously-mentioned Uber case, Shannon Liss-Riordan. Liss-Riordan is aiming to use plaintiff Erick Wickberg as a representative for a full class of Lyft drivers who want to become full or part-time employees.

Time will tell how this case will work out in the end, but in the interim, we're curious to hear your thoughts on the matter. What do you think of the freelancer-powered gig economy? Is it preferable to standard employment contracts? Let us know in the comments.

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Evernessince

Posts: 4,985   +5,110
To me , these companies don't seem to care about anything but themselves. They don't provide any accident liability protections, they don't provide benefits, and they don't even provide you with anything related to the job you are doing. I find their claim of "contractors" hard to swallow given they work directly through your app to serve your customers.

The fact that people have to accept this kind of work speaks volumes about the job market. It doesn't matter how full employment is if it's slave labor. Companies like this aren't avoiding labeling it's drivers employees because they are nice, they are doing so to avoid taxes, pay their drivers less, and strip them of their protections.

Related, the decline of unions and worker protections has directly correlated to the stagnation in wages and reduction in worker benefits. It used to be only the head of the household was needed to keep the family afloat. Now it takes two parents and even then income is still on the decline. At some point Americans are going to wake up and realize the benefits of working as a team instead of a nation divided. Maybe that will be this November.
 

Axiarus

Posts: 506   +304
I like how you don't hear this kind of stuff about FedEx. If you see a FedEx Ground driver driving around, he is a sub contractor, not an employee of FedEx.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 4,985   +5,110
I like how you don't hear this kind of stuff about FedEx. If you see a FedEx Ground driver driving around, he is a sub contractor, not an employee of FedEx.
That's because there is a big difference. First, FedEx hires 3rd party logistics companies for a portion of it's ground deliveries. Second, FedEx isn't soliciting individuals directly, they are contracting with companies. Not saying that is exactly the right thing either. FedEx still pays these people less when for all intents and purposes they are employees. They have a FedEx Truck and uniform, deliver fedex parcels, ect.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,044   +4,849
Not only do I think that Uber and Lyft drivers should be employees, but I think they should be also brought into the AFL-CIO, as union employees.

I would be a hoot watching the taxi drivers take their revenge on those former scabs.
 

mailpup

Posts: 7,543   +691
TS Special Forces
Not only do I think that Uber and Lyft drivers should be employees, but I think they should be also brought into the AFL-CIO, as union employees.

I would be a hoot watching the taxi drivers take their revenge on those former scabs.
Just to followup, if Uber and Lyft drivers become employees, wouldn't they be essentially the same as taxi cab drivers and so also need taxi licenses?
 

Evernessince

Posts: 4,985   +5,110
Just to followup, if Uber and Lyft drivers become employees, wouldn't they be essentially the same as taxi cab drivers and so also need taxi licenses?
It depends on the state as laws vary. You may just be required to submit for a higher class license.