Yesterday, July 28, 2020, U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall ruled that drivers for tech platforms like Lyft and Uber must begin receiving New York state unemployment benefits within 45 days. Whether drivers are independent contractors or employees is immaterial in the days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many drivers are due various government benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
A group of drivers sued New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in federal court in May 2020, who claimed the State of New York was delaying, and sometimes they were being denied unemployment benefits.
Judge DeArcy wrote in her judgment, “Defendants have no cognizable interest in failing to pay benefits to (For Hire Vehicles) claimants when due. Defendants’ only argument advanced on this point is that [in] the current economic climate, it would be imprudent to dedicate resources to providing preliminary relief requested by Plaintiffs. To the contrary, it is precisely because of the current economic climate that such immediate relief is demanded.”
In somewhat related news, Tesla is working on its own ridesharing app called ‘Tesla Network’. It would begin similarly as Lyft and Uber; however, would eventually morph into what Elon Musk has called it a ‘robotaxi’ service. Owners of Tesla vehicles could send their car out onto the Tesla Network platform to pick up and drop off riders automatically. Owners of the car could call for the car to return or schedule their car to pick them up at a certain time while their car was earning them money rather than sitting in their driveway or in their parking space at work.