Lyft Faces Class Action Lawsuit Over Driver Employment Status
Lyft is facing a class action lawsuit that targets the alleged widespread and deliberate misclassification of its drivers as independent contractors. According to Jalopnik.com, the lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of California by representatives of Lyft driver Donald J. Brunner Jr. of Burbank who has driven full-time for Lyft since March 2016. The lawsuit states Brunner has worked 42 to 70 hours per week on the platform since logging 500 to 1,100 miles per week. The suit alleges he and other drivers were deprived of reimbursed expenses, overtime and minimum wage among other rights employees have under the law.
Lyft has been sued several times now over how it misclassifies its drivers as contractors. In 2017, the rideshare company settled a similar lawsuit for $27 million although it took nearly four years to be settled. Furthermore, it left the question of driver classification unanswered. Uber settled a case earlier this year for $20 million six years after it was filed.
Why is This Misclassification?
One of the issues that gave Uber tremendous leverage in that case was the fact
that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the arbitration clauses drivers must agree to in order to work on the platform, directing legal matters to an arbitration proceeding rather than the courts, prohibited class actions. However, Brunner’s representatives say Lyft waived its right to arbitration because it did not pay the necessary fees to the American Arbitration Association. The association requires that the fees be paid in advance of any hearing.
The lawsuit makes a number of arguments regarding why drivers should be classified as employees rather than as contractors. Lyft runs a business that is totally dependent on the drivers to provide their services. The suit argues that drivers don’t have meaningful degrees of business autonomy. For example, drivers don’t have the ability to set their own rates or build relationships with passengers for future services.
Moreover, Lyft controls the terms of employment. Drivers don’t have the freedom to cancel rides at their discretion without being penalized by lift. Also, by giving drivers only 15 seconds to accept rides, Lyft prohibits drivers from being engaged in any other meaningful activity even when they are not providing any services on the platform.
Protecting Employees’ Rights
If you believe your employer has misclassified you as a contractor instead of a full-time worker to dodge paying you wages, providing you with medical or other benefits or overtime, please contact an experienced California employment lawyer who can help evaluate your case and help you seek compensation and relief for your losses.