The lawsuit states that 96,000 drivers owe money for two violations. Drivers claim that Uber withdrew money from payroll checks for both state sales taxes and an additional fee meant to apply for trips between states. They claim that their contract with the company requires them to pay the passenger's full fare minus Uber's service charge. The lawsuit also claims that the company used a manipulative payment system where customers paid a higher price than what was reported to the drivers, with Uber getting the difference.
"This uncanny use of dual definitions of & # 39; Danger," a defined term under the contract, resulted in Uber charging higher prices to passengers than those it reported to drivers, "states a complaint in the case." Uber then made the difference and deprived its drivers of a contractual share of the entire price charged to customers. "
The company did not respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit, first reported by Bloomberg Law, states that the group of drivers owes an estimated $ 5 million. The three Uber drivers named in the suit, Levon Aleksanian, Sonam Lama and Harjit Khatra, asked a federal judge to approve class action lawsuits for the nearly 1
00,000 motorists affected.
The lawsuit is part of a wave of attempts to strengthen hands – and boost wages – for so-called gig economy workers, the most prominent class being ride-share drivers, where companies such as Lyft and Uber once e enrolled to disrupt difficult industries, attention has turned to how workers on largely unregulated digital platforms can be exploited, misled and exposed to pay theft and abuse.
Companies such as Instacart and DoorDash, whose business models rely on employees to use their apps, have drawn harsh criticism in recent years for drawing customer tips from the payment given to them – essentially saving money.
In New York City, attention has swelled at the driver's chance. , of which more than 78,000 work for the riddle apps. In 2018, eight professional drivers committed suicide, including one, Doug Schifter, who fatally shot in front of City Hall after writing a Facebook post about his financial difficulties.
The city approved minimum wage protection for app-based drivers at the end of the year, requiring them to be paid $ 17 an hour for their work, the first for any major city in the United States.
In California, a state law recently enacted by Prime Minister Gavin Newsom (D) expanded rights and protection for ride-share drivers and will force companies like Lyft and Uber to classify their workers as employees rather than as individual contractors. The move came after months of organizing among ride-share drivers.
Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates and Maplebear, Instacart's parent company, spent $ 110 million to fight the law, Bloomberg Law noted.
Similar proposals are being considered in other states, including New York and New Jersey.
The New York Taxi Workers Alliance has been involved in many of these efforts.
Bhairavi Desai, CEO of the organization, has watched as public awareness has grown around the ride-share industry. In 2015, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's ideas about regulating the industry were so unpopular that he quickly withdrew in the face of a robust Uber public relations campaign.
Other officials in the state ignored the group's delight in trying to ensure drivers were eligible for benefits as unemployment when work dried out, Desai said in an interview.
"Politically, we were just frozen out," she said.
But the tide has turned in recent years, and several lawsuits have documented the ways workers were treated by the company.
"As the drivers began to organize, all the reports began to come out about what the drivers were facing," Desai said. "That's when consumers and the public really started to look again."