Image Source: Alfredo Mendez (Flickr)
The drivers claim that the ride-sharing app double charged a workers comp fund fee, once to customers’ cards, and once to drivers’ pay.
According to the lawsuit, Lyft also charged drivers an 11.4% on the fee, which would be an illegal wage deduction in violation New York City law.
Gustavo Camilo began driving for Lyft in early 2014, he says that throughout his time there, they had offices within New York.
The complaint alleges that Lyft was operating several Black Car, or limousine corporations in order to stay in compliance with city laws regarding taxis, limos and other similar services. All black car companies in New York City are required to collect a 2.5% surcharge from passengers on all rides for the Black Car Fund, an injured workers fund for drivers.
Camilo says that while Lyft’s companies were collecting fees from riders, they were also charging each driver for the same fee as part of their general commission fee. According to the complaint, this means Lyft was double charging the fee.
Lyft employed thousands of drivers at any given time since 2014, which would mean the class would include, “a minimum of several thousand employees,” the complaint states.
According to emails submitted as evidence, Lyft acknowledged that it would no longer be double-charging, but did not inform drivers that their previous practice of doing so was unlawful.
“Oddly, [Lyft] tried to cover up their past fraudulent practices with a positive email suggesting [they] has changed their practices for the sole benefit of [the drivers].” the complaint states.
Additionally, the drivers seek to have an arbitration agreement they had to sign to start driving with Lyft thrown-out as unenforceable.
“The arbitration agreement prohibits any class claims, so for example if the approximately 65,000 Lyft drivers in New York City were to arbitrate the question of their illegal deductions, breach of contract, fraud, and unjust enrichment, conceivably there would have to be 65,000 individual arbitration on the same issue,” the complaint states.
The drivers sue on three counts; breach of contract, unjust enrichment and unlawful wage deduction. The class action suit was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York by attorney Luigi Izzo of Romano. They are demanding a jury trial, and seek reimbursement and restitution.
The case was removed to the Southern District of New York