June 9, 2015
A San Francisco UberX driver is asking for workers’ compensation insurance to cover him in a lawsuit filed on April 28, 2015, after his face was cut by a passenger during the nightshift. The company states that drivers are independent contractors although the driver wants to be classified as an employee. Abdo Ghazi is also asking that the lawsuit be granted class action status, which includes all previous and present Uber employees. He is seeking unspecified penalties and damages along with an injunction but made no comment in the case. Uber also declined to make a statement.
Controversy is swirling over the status of workers with other companies in similar cases as they are demanding employee status for their services. The lawsuit elaborates that status as independent contractors has hurt the drivers and is in violation of state laws. However, state law permits the coverage even when workers are labeled independent contractors. Local taxi officials have complained about the discrepancy as they need to pay almost $5,000 annually for workers’ compensation insurance although Uber, Sidecar and Lyft are not similarly regulated.
Ghazi has not received any compensation from Uber for the damages and injuries he suffered the night he was assaulted. His attorney stated that they apologized but did not offer to pay for any of the related expenses. During the day, he works as a janitor but began driving for Uber in order to help pay the bills.
The assault happened in November 2014 when Ghazi picked up three people. He dropped off two of them and continued to transport the last passenger, a male, to his destination. Suddenly, the man jumped into the front, punching the driver and stabbing his face. Ghazi tried unsuccessfully to escape, but the man continued his attack. He eventually fled the scene, and Ghazi was able to call emergency personnel for help. His attacker was later apprehended. Ghazi was hospitalized and remained out of work for about two months. He still suffers from the injuries inflicted that evening.
Independent contractors are not afforded many of the rights of regular employees, including worker’s compensation insurance. If you have questions about your work status as an employee or independent contractor, call our attorney for help with your case.