Finance, Law and Politics, New York, Transportation

UBER Sued for Alleged Stealing From Drivers

November 9, 2019

By Stephanie West

UBER theft

New York, NY – Three NYTWA Uber driver members filed a lawsuit in Federal court against Uber for unlawfully deducting amounts Uber represented as tax and the Black Car Fund surcharge from driver pay. 

The driver’s plaintiffs seek to represent a class of 96,000+ New York City Uber drivers who worked for the company from 2013-2017 who did not opt-out of arbitration. The lawsuit argues that Uber breached its contract with every single one of its NYC drivers — members of the largest private-sector workforce in New York City — from 2013-2017. Uber deducted sales tax and the Black Car Fund surcharge from every single fare for every single driver during that time. The lawsuit is asking for all of that money back. The lawsuit was filed as their investors sell Uber shares cashing in on millions while the company continues to exploit drivers.

Sonam Lama, NYTWA member and one of the three Uber driver plaintiffs in the lawsuit said: “I have a 5-year-old son, and I drive for Uber to support him. But it’s a struggle. For years, Uber even took out the sales tax and a surcharge that was supposed to be charged to passengers from our measly pay. The gig economy is all about exploiting workers by nickel and diming us and taking away our rights, including our right to seek justice in the courts. Uber still hasn’t repaid us what we are owed or admitted that what they did was wrong. That’s why we’re filing this lawsuit today.”

NYTWA members previously filed a wage theft lawsuit against Uber for taking sales tax and the Black Car Fund Surcharge out of driver pay. That lawsuit prompted Uber into paying out millions of dollars to drivers and admitting that they had “accidentally” taken their commission on top of sales tax.

Two recent court decisions opened the door for the lawsuit to be re-filed. The first is the Supreme Court decision in January that the Federal Arbitration Act exemption from binding arbitration extends to all transportation workers engaged in interstate commerce, not just workers considered to be employees under labor law. And then, in September, the 3rd Circuit ruled that the exemption to the Federal Arbitration Act extends to people transporting passengers in interstate commerce, which could include NYC Uber drivers. So Uber drivers, the biggest private workforce in New York City, should not be bound by forced arbitration and should be empowered to seek restitution through the courts as a class. 

NYTWA Executive Director Bhairavi Desai said: “Uber bosses are raking in millions while drivers struggle to feed their families. Uber’s business model depends on exploiting vulnerable low-wage workers — including by stealing from driver pay. But time and time again, when workers fight back, we beat Uber even with all their billions.”

November 9, 2019

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