by BLACK ENTERPRISE Editors
*Originally Reported by Reuters
NEW YORK, Nov 2 (Reuters) – Uber (UBER.N) and Lyft (LYFT.O) will pay a combined $328 million to settle claims by New York’s attorney general that the ride-sharing companies systematically cheated drivers out of pay and benefits.
Drivers will also be guaranteed minimum hourly rates and paid sick leave. They will be given notices and in-app chat support to address questions about earnings and other working conditions.
James’ probe addressed claims that Uber and Lyft improperly collected some taxes and fees from New York drivers rather than passengers.
It also addressed the companies’ practices of classifying drivers as independent contractors instead of employee
obe into the NAR’s practices.
“These settlements will ensure they finally get what they have rightfully earned and are owed under the law,” James said in a statement.
Uber and Lyft, both based in San Francisco, denied wrongdoing, and called their settlements a “win” for drivers.
Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer, in a statement said Uber’s settlement “helps put to rest” the classification issue and will be a model for other states.
Lyft said in a separate statement it believes it has always properly classified drivers as independent contractors.
Uber and Lyft have long defended against claims nationwide that they shortchange drivers, many of whom are immigrants, out of pay and benefits, including by refusing to classify them as employees.
Both companies have said many of their drivers prefer working as independent contractors.
The payments equal a little under 1% of Uber’s and Lyft’s annual revenue.
James accused Uber and Lyft of improperly deducting sales taxes and fees for a workers compensation fund from drivers’ payments, though passengers should have paid those amounts.
James said both companies also denied drivers sick leave that state and New York City employees are legally entitled to receive.
Under the settlements, drivers outside New York City will receive a minimum $26 per hour for rides and sick leave, adjusted annually for inflation.
Drivers in New York City already receive minimum pay and some paid time off, as required by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission. James said Uber and Lyft drivers there will receive $17 per hour for sick leave, with inflation adjustments.
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Source: Black Enterprise