Lyft Driver Files Class Action for Forced Log-offs

A Lyft driver sued the company for breaching their contract with drivers in a class-action lawsuit. He claims Lyft began forcing drivers out of the app who were not doing enough weekly drives as a result of new regulations mandating a base pay for hours drivers are available or driving.

The complaint includes in the class other New York Drivers who have been forcibly logged off for performing fewer than 100 or 180 rides within 30 days. The plaintiff, MD Islam, filed the complaint in the New York Southern District Court and is represented by Mirer Mazzocchi & Julien. He has been a Lyft driver since 2014 and performed fewer than 180 rides at the start of 2020 because of a trip to visit his ill mother and began receiving restricted access to the Lyft app. He said he was affected by the forced log-off policy until he could no longer work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Lyft’s forced logouts of its affiliated drivers amount to nothing less than short-term layoffs of workers who have come to depend on the availability of full-time work in order to meet their work expenses, let alone the cost of living in New York City,” the complaint states. He says the shift in policy significantly reduced worker’s hours and caused them to earn hundreds less each week.

Islam claims that Lyft, in its recruiting efforts, publicized the flexibility of joining their fleet and the ability to choose your own hours. He said they recruited too many drivers making it harder for each to reach enough hours that Lyft’s commission would go down, they had encouraged drivers to work 30-50 hours a week by cutting Lyft’s commission in half at 30 hours and eliminating it for those who drove 50 hours a week.

The Taxi and Limousine Commission in New York City created rules in 2018 that drivers needed to be paid a base rate of $17.22 per hour plus expenses for miles travelled; this meant Lyft would have less revenue when there are too many drivers available. The regulations also stated Lyft should not limit where and when drivers have access to the Lyft app, the plaintiff claims this is why the company began forcibly logging out drivers who did not accept trip requests.

The complaint says drivers were notified of the new rules in an email in June 2019, which read drivers who had not done a certain amount of trips would be taken offline if they did not have a ride in the last 30 minutes and they may need to go to a busier area in order to receive jobs. Islam claims this policy often resulted in drivers receiving jobs in the outskirts of the city or jobs that would take them over state lines, but they would not be able to log on until they drive back to Manhattan. Taking breaks for lunch could also result in not being able to log back into the app.