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$328M settlement reached for Uber, Lyft drivers

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Uber and Lyft drivers across New York State might qualify for part of a $328 million settlement reached between the ride sharing companies and the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

It all has to do with how they were paid in the past.

After years of investigating, the New York State Attorney General’s Office announced the $328 million settlement with Uber and Lyft. Uber will pay people who drove for the company in New York from 2014 to 2017 a total of $290 million. Lyft will pay people who drove from 2015 to 2017 in New York a total of $38-million.

“One of the key takeaways from this is that employers can’t use the fact that it’s a new technology, it’s a new type of position, as some sort of excuse to not follow the laws that already do apply,” said Jared Cook, an attorney with Tully Rinckey.

The back pay covers sales tax and Black Car Fund fees Uber took out of the drivers’ payments. Meanwhile, Lyft deducted more than 11 percent from drivers’ payments as an administrative charge equal to what drivers would have been charged in sales tax and Black Car Fund fees. According to state law, passengers should have been paying those fees instead.

Attorney Jared Cook says only certain things can be taken out of your paycheck.

“That’s things like your income tax or your Medicare tax. Those are things that they’re authorized to take out. Things that are for the employee’s benefit and authorized in writing, that would be, like for example, if you’ve got a some sort of employee benefits, like you provide life insurance or something like that,” Cook said.

The settlement also includes mandatory paid sick leave and mandatory minimum pay for current drivers. They will earn an hour of sick pay for every thirty hours they work, up to 56 hours a year.

Drivers outside of New York City will make a minimum of $26 an hour for sick leave. That will also be the new minimum hourly wage.

Cook said the settlement calls for more state oversight of both companies.

“The companies have to provide the state with an audit over the next several years of their efforts to make sure they’re in compliance with these things, so that’s something that’s above and beyond what any typical employer would be required to do,” Cook said

The Attorney General has a website for drivers who might qualify for the settlement. This impacts more than 100,000 drivers according to the Attorney General’s office which includes former and current drivers.

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