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NY Supreme Court Rules Uber Drivers Eligible for Unemployment Benefits

In late December 2020, the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, ruled that Uber drivers in the upstate New York market are eligible for unemployment benefits, according to Elizabeth Blosfield of Insurance Journal.

Blosfield writes, “Uber Technologies Inc operates a smartphone app that connects customers with available drivers to pick them up and transport them to their destination. Drivers are typically considered independent contractors, and as a result, lack the same protections granted to regular employees under U.S. labor law, such as health and unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.”

However, in this case, Colin Lowry was employed as an Uber driver in the upstate New York market and filed a claim for unemployment benefits, sparking the court hearings.

“The New York Department of Labor initially found that Lowry was an employee of Uber, making Uber liable for his unemployment insurance claim. Uber objected to the finding, but following a hearing, an administrative law judge upheld the determinations. The Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board affirmed, and Uber again appealed,” stated Blosfield.

Most recently in the New York Supreme Court hearing, it was determined that “Uber exercised enough control over its drivers to establish an employment relationship with them,” to include the following criteria:

  • “Uber controls drivers’ access to their customers, calculates and collects fares and sets drivers’ rate of compensation.”

  • “Uber provides a navigation system, tracks drivers’ location on the app throughout the trip, and reserves the right to adjust the fare if drivers take an inefficient route.”

  • “Uber also controls the vehicle used, precludes certain drivers behavior and uses its rating system to encourage and promote drivers to conduct themselves in a way that establishes a positive experience for customers.”

Ultimately, the New York Supreme Court upheld the April 2019 rulings with the New York Department of Labor and the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board.

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