Judge orders New York to pay unemployment to Uber and Lyft drivers

Judge orders New York to pay unemployment to Uber and Lyft drivers
Judge orders New York to pay unemployment to Uber and Lyft drivers

Enlarge (credit: Smith Collection/Gado | Getty)

A federal judge has ordered the state of New York to quickly pay unemployment benefits to four Uber and Lyft drivers who have been waiting for the payments since March or April. The New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which filed a lawsuit over the issue back in May, says that the ruling could ultimately help thousands of drivers in similar situations.

Uber and Lyft have long argued that its drivers are independent contractors, not employees. That stance has come under increasing pressure. Since 2016, the New York Department of Labor has held that ride-hail drivers were employees for purposes of unemployment insurance. But Uber and Lyft have dragged their feet, failing to provide wage data that would enable the agency to calculate unemployment payments for each worker.

As a result, when Uber and Lyft drivers forced out of work by the pandemic applied for unemployment benefits, some were told that they weren’t eligible because state data showed them with zero earnings. Workers continued to be denied benefits even after they submitted 1099 tax forms showing their earnings.

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