More than 2,000 Uber and Lyft drivers in California have filed wage claims against the rideshare companies alleging the companies have treated them as independent contractors and owe them more than $630 million in lost wages, expenses, and damages. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, by calling to the influx of the claims, the drivers say they hope to pressure the state to enforce Assembly Bill 5, a law that established stricter standards of companies that treat workers as contractors rather than employees.
Seeking Back Wages and Expense Reimbursement
The drivers plan to protest caravan-style outside the offices of the California labor commissioner as well as the Employment Development Department in Los Angeles and San Francisco to demand that the state enforce AB5 so they can qualify for unemployment insurance benefits and receive the wages that they were wrongly denied through misclassification.
Some groups have called for the suspension of AB 5, arguing that the law makes it hard for freelancers to find work especially at this time when the coronavirus pandemic has led to stay-at-home orders all over California. However, groups that represent these drivers say the pandemic only highlights the need for employee benefits and protections to ease the fallout from an economic downtown. These protections include paid sick leave and unemployment insurance.
Drivers filed the wage claims through a web tool that was created to help streamline the process. As of last week, 2,535 drivers had filed claims for back wages. The LA Times reports that the labor commissioner’s office is processing more than 2,600 such claims filed by rideshare drivers since March 1. In addition to seeking overtime pay, drivers are also asking the labor commissioner to order the companies to pay them back for business expenses such as vehicle mileage, phone bills, monthly car washes, and customer amenities.
Wage and Hour Lawsuits
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to change different aspects of our daily lives including the fact that millions are working from home in order to comply with shelter-at-home orders. Those whose work allows them to telecommute are fortunate in that regard because many who have not been able to go physically to work have been laid off or furloughed. These changes open up new doors for potential wage and hour violations that might affect employees.
If you believe your employer is violating wage laws, it is important that you contact an experienced California employment attorney who can help fight for your rights and secure fair compensation for your damages and losses.