Three New York Uber drivers and “others similarly situated” have been deemed employees for unemployment purposes.In other Uber news:
An administrative law judge for New York’s state labor department ruled on June 9 that the three former Uber drivers were eligible to receive unemployment benefits, typically reserved for ex-employees. The ruling strikes another blow to Uber’s business model. The company treats its over 600,000 US drivers as independent contractors, which enables it to avoid providing them both government-mandated employee benefits and a guaranteed minimum wage.
The new ruling upholds determinations made late last year by a state labor department clerk that found Jeffrey Shepherd, Levon Aleksanian, and Jakir Hossain—all former Uber drivers—to be employees of the company rather than contractors. Uber had appealed the initial determination.
“Uber took steps to modify the claimants’ behavior, as typical in an employer-employee relationship,” administrative law judge Michelle Burrowes wrote on June 9. “The overriding evidence establishes that Uber exercised sufficient supervision, direction, and control over key aspects of the services rendered by claimants such that an employer-employee relationship was created.”
One unanswered question is what constitutes “similarly situated,” and how many drivers it could extend to. Uber has previously emphasized that labor-department determinations are limited in scope to the named plaintiffs. The company also once said there was “no typical driver” on its roster, in an effort to preempt an employment lawsuit being certified as a class-action.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance (NYTWA), an advocacy group for professional drivers in New York city that represented the three drivers in their case, called for the state labor department to audit Uber to determine whether all of their drivers in New York state are employees. “The message here is simple: If you’re going to control the workers to maximize your profits off their labor, you owe them their rights and benefits under the law,” Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the NYTWA, said in a statement.....MORE
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