Notable Calls: Lyft, Facebook, Alphabet
Lyft Inc. was sued by a former driver for not providing the paid sick days required by Washington, D.C., law, the latest challenge to the stance by ride-hail platforms that their drivers aren’t employees.
By violating the sick leave law during the coronavirus pandemic, “Lyft forces its drivers into a Hobbesian choice: risk their lives (and the lives of their passengers) or risk their livelihoods,” according to the complaint, filed Friday in federal court on behalf of a class of current and former drivers.
The central claim is that drivers, who are integral to Lyft’s business and subject to its control over how they perform it, are employees entitled to the protections of the District of Columbia’s local sick leave law, not contractors as the company argues.
“Lyft is committed to helping drivers during the pandemic, which is why we’re providing funds to those who are diagnosed with Covid-19 and helping drivers access federal relief that includes paid sick leave,” Lyft spokesman CJ Macklin said in an emailed statement.
Forcing the company to reclassify drivers as employees “would jeopardize access to thousands of dollars in federal funds at the worst possible time,” he said.
Friday’s lawsuit calls what Lyft is offering a “vague and limited” measure that’s insufficient to comply with D.C. law.
Many employment cases against Uber and Lyft have been shunted into arbitration. But last year, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that a trucker couldn’t be forced to arbitrate his claims because of an exception in federal law for transportation workers engaged in interstate commerce.
The Lyft driver’s lawyer, Christopher McNerney, said there’s a particularly strong argument that their case qualifies for that exception because D.C. drivers routinely cross state lines into Maryland and Virginia.