Treatment Of Drivers
Classification as independent contractors
Unless otherwise required by law, drivers are generally independent contractors and not employees. This designation affects taxation, work hours, and overtime benefits. Lawsuits have been filed by drivers alleging that they are entitled to the rights and remedies of being considered "employees" under employment law. However, drivers do receive certain flexibilities that are not common among employees.
Compliance with minimum wage laws
In some jurisdictions, drivers are guaranteed a minimum wage, such as in New York City, where drivers must earn $26.51/hour before expenses or $17.22/hour after expenses. Analyses have shown that absent such laws, many drivers earn less than the stated minimum wage.
A May 2018 report by the Economic Policy Institute found the average hourly wage for drivers to be $9.21. Reports of poor wages have been published in Profil, Trend, and The Guardian. A 2017 report claimed that only 4% of all Uber drivers were still working as such one year after starting, primarily due to low pay.
However, a 2019 study found that "drivers earn more than twice the surplus they would in less-flexible arrangements."
Crimes have been committed by rideshare drivers as well as by individuals posing as rideshare drivers who lure unsuspecting passengers to their vehicles by placing an emblem on their car or by claiming to be a passenger's expected driver. The latter led to the murder of Samantha Josephson and the introduction of Sami’s Law.
Lawsuits claim that rideshare companies did not take necessary measures to prevent sexual assault. Rideshare companies have been fined by government agencies for violations in their background check processes. In 2019, more than 34 women sued Lyft in the United States alleging that they were raped or assaulted by Lyft drivers, and that the company did not do enough to keep them safe and that Lyft attracts drivers that plan to prey on vulnerable women.
Many women claim that, even after they reported their assault to Lyft, the company ignored their report and continued to allow the assailants to drive with Lyft.
Ridesharing has also been criticized for encouraging or requiring phone use while driving. To accept a fare, drivers must tap their phone screen, usually within 15 seconds after receiving a notification, which is illegal in some jurisdictions since it could result in distracted driving.
Dynamic pricing and price fixing allegations
Due to dynamic pricing models, prices for the same route may vary based on the supply and demand for rides at the time the ride is requested. When rides are in high demand in a certain area and there are not enough drivers in such area, fares increase to get more drivers to that area.
In the United States, drivers do not have any control over the fares they charge; lawsuits allege that this is an illegal restraint on trade in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890.
Ridesharing has been criticized for providing inadequate accessibility measures for disabled people compared to the public transit it displaces.
In some areas, vehicle for hire companies are required by law to have a certain amount of wheelchair accessible vans (WAVs) in use. However, most drivers do not own a WAV, making it hard to comply with the laws.
Legality of Ride Sharing
The legality of ridesharing companies by jurisdiction varies; in some areas they have been banned and are considered to be illegal taxicab operations.
Unwanted text messages
In Nov 2018, Lyft settled a class action suit filed in 2014 alleging that the company had sent large numbers of unwanted commercial text messages. In addition to $4M in payments to consumers, the plaintiffs sought $1M in legal fees.