New York Uber and Lyft drivers win battle for unemployment insurance benefits

Unemployment insurance benefits - Uber and Lyft drivers
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The ride hailing drivers sued the state in May and a federal judge has now ruled in their favor.

Lyft and Uber drivers recently won the right to receive unemployment insurance benefits immediately. The ruling was made by a federal judge who determined that the New York Department of Labor had taken too long to issue payments.

The ruling was made by U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall in Brooklyn this week.

The judge cited a backlog of claims was occurring from ride-hail drivers who sued New York state in May. The lawsuits accused the state of either taking months to make unemployment insurance benefits payments or failing to pay them at all. This was taking place as workers in other types of jobs were receiving their payments in as short a time as two weeks.

According to Judge DeArcy Hall, the drivers had faced “an avoidable and inexcusable delay in the payment of unemployment insurance.” New York state was ordered to form a straightforward process to be used for ride hailing drivers to apply for their benefits payments. The judge also criticized Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies for taking part in “gamesmanship” with the argument that their drivers are not employees but are rather self-employees, removing their requirement to broadly report earnings and wages.

Judge DeArcy Hall gave NY a week to create an unemployment insurance benefits backlog working group.

The working group will handle the backlog relating to the ride share driver benefits. The judge also gave the state’s Labor Department 45 days to reach a resolution on all outstanding claims. This ruling is the outcome of ride hailing industry legal battles that have been ongoing for years between drivers’ advocates and the state.

In 2019, a court in New York had already ruled that a group of drivers should be deemed employees in terms of unemployment insurance benefits purposes. That said, Uber has stated that the ruling is applicable only to the drivers who were specifically named in that court case. That company has occasionally challenged Unemployment insurance benefits - Uber and Lyft driversefforts from other drivers to claim the payments to which the drivers in the 2019 case earned rights.

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