Empowering Individuals

Two Uber Drivers Won Benefits as Employees – Why This is Important

Posted by Giovanna A. D'Orazio | Oct 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

Distracted driving 800x565

Two New York State Uber drivers were recently awarded unemployment benefits, based upon a determination that they were employees, and not, as Uber claimed, independent contractors. This is a big deal.

Whether or not you are an Uber driver, the determination can have far reaching consequences for employees everywhere.

Why?  Because Uber had taken the position that its drivers were not employees, but instead were independent contractors.  And while most people would not think twice about that designation, it can be significant.

In New York, employees are entitled to, among other things, worker's compensation and unemployment insurance protection.  Meaning, if an employee gets hurt on the job she can have her medical bills paid by the workers' compensation insurance carrier.  Or if that same employee is terminated or laid off, she can (generally) file for unemployment insurance benefits while she looks for another job.

Workers' compensation and unemployment insurance coverage are important safety nets in our society.  Without them workers face a significant risk.

Uber has taken the position nationally that its drivers are independent contractors – in other words that they are essentially free to do what they want and are not your typical “employees” who go to work and punch a clock every day.

The determinations in New York as to whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor are typically made on a case by case basis, and the decisions are, as you might imagine, not always consistent (California is having the same problem).

The main factor that the Department of Labor (and, ultimately, courts) consider is the level of control that the company exerts over the individual.

At some point it's likely that the issue of whether Uber and other on-demand ride share workers are employees or independent contractors will end up in the higher courts in New York.  Until then this recent decision by the Department of Labor represents a win for the workers.

About the Author

Giovanna A. D'Orazio

Giovanna has experience litigating, among other things, commercial, general civil, employment, land use and personal injury matters in New York State and federal courts. Giovanna also has experience litigating Article 78 proceedings in New York State court.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Personal Injury

Have you been injured at a job site, or in a vehicle? D’Orazio Peterson is an experienced Personal Injury law firm. If you have experienced serious injury due to negligence or malice, be sure to contact us to see what we can do to help you receive the justice you deserve.

Employment Law

If you were recently laid off during maternity leave or you’re having trouble at work and think discrimination is to blame, you have the right to fight back against your employer’s poor behavior. D’Orazio Peterson handles employment law cases involving FMLA violations and incidents of discrimination based on age, gender, race or disability.

Medical Errors

Medical errors are a leading cause of death, and many are preventable. We work towards eliminating those errors.