Uber, Lyft drivers would get help with deactivations under NYC bill

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New York City is considering a bill that would address a top issue for its tens of thousands of ride-hailing drivers: getting kicked off apps like Uber and Lyft.

The bill, sponsored by City Councilman Shekar Krishnan and introduced Thursday, would establish an appeal process for driver deactivations that would involve the city.

If passed, the bill would require Uber Technologies Inc.
UBER,
+3.26%

and Lyft Inc.
LYFT,
+2.91%

to give 14 days notice before removing drivers, and, within five days, to disclose by writing the allegations against drivers. Drivers, who would also gain the right to “progressive discipline,” would also have the ability appeal the deactivation and have the city investigate on their behalf if they fail to come to a resolution with the ride-hailing companies.

In addition, previously deactivated drivers would be allowed to appeal the decisions for one year after the bill’s adoption.

“Despite being essential workers, unfair deactivations of drivers from billion-dollar [for-hire vehicle] companies don’t just cut into the income of drivers, they strand them with tens of thousands of dollars of debt,” Krishnan said as he introduced his bill Thursday. “They also harm an entire community — my community — and so many others across the city.”

Djiba Camara, who said Thursday during a virtual press conference by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance — which worked with Krishnan on the bill — that he’s been driving for Uber for five years but was deactivated after being accused of having a gun in his vehicle, said it was untrue and that he was unfairly kicked off the app.

“There’s no police report,” Camara said, adding that he is now facing financial hardship and possible eviction. “They fired me for that. I cannot support my family.”

Uber did not immediately return a request for comment.

Lyft spokesman CJ Macklin said Thursday that the city and the companies “should work together on a solution.”

“Fair deactivations for drivers are important, but they must be done in a way that doesn’t jeopardize the safety of the platform,” he said. “The current proposal could force riders who were victims of a crime to relive traumatic events and provide testimony against their driver, or risk that driver being allowed to remain on the platform.”

From the archives (Jan. 2023): ‘Sometimes, there is no way for drivers to prove their innocence’: Rules seek to address apps banning gig workers

The bill is being referred to the city’s transportation committee, and a public hearing is possible in the coming weeks.

It is just one among several efforts around the nation to address deactivations of drivers, who are gig workers and considered independent contractors by the makers of the apps they use. The Independent Drivers Guild, a workers group that has had industry backing, lists a formal deactivation process on its website and says it advocates for drivers in New York and New Jersey. Washington state has a new law that is supposed to help drivers with deactivations; Chicago is considering a similar ordinance; and proposed legislation in Massachusetts seeks to address deactivations, too.

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