Are Uber & Lyft Drivers Entitled to Overtime Pay?
Controversy surrounding the employment status of Uber and Lyft drivers has been around since the companies first became popular. As the ride-sharing apps began taking over the nation, lawmakers all over the country started discussing specific regulations for Uber and Lyft drivers. Many drivers and former drivers have started lawsuit in frustration of how Uber and Lyft conduct payment. One of things that the lawsuits address is whether Uber and Lyft drivers are eligible to receive overtime pay.
Uber and Lyft Drivers: Employees or Contractors?
One of the big controversies surrounding Uber and Lyft drivers are their roles is in the companies. A U.S. judge recently ruled Uber and Lyft drivers are not employees of Uber and Lyft. They are independent contractors under federal law.
U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson stated Uber and Lyft do not have enough control over the drivers for the companies to consider the drivers as employees. Drivers can take breaks and nap, run errands, smoke, or do a variety of other personal activities. They only work when they want to, which gives the drivers primary control of their jobs.
Whether drivers are employees is a big point of controversy. Uber has dealt with numerous lawsuits about drivers’ rights. Some drivers claim entitlement to minimum wage, overtime, and other legal protections most workers have in other jobs. The judge’s decision relieves Uber and Lyft of the need to pay their drivers overtime.
Florida Uber and Lyft Laws
Before the U.S. district judge ruled Uber and Lyft drivers are not employees, Florida lawmakers determined they are contractors, not employees, as long as the companies meet four criteria, which Uber and Lyft both meet. The criteria outlines:
- The company cannot assign specific hours when the person must be logged on and working.
- The company cannot ban the driver from also working for other transportation companies.
- The company does not prohibit drivers from working other jobs during their time off.
- The company and the driver agree and sign a contract stating the driver is an independent contractor for the company.
Most companies to which the law applies can easily fulfill the necessary criteria. The companies also must ensure:
- Drivers must have the required insurance.
- The companies must have a zero-tolerance policy about drug and alcohol use while on the job.
- The companies must conduct a background check on anyone who applies to be a driver.
- The companies must enforce policies that discourage any form of discrimination toward drivers or riders.
The ruling prevents Uber and Lyft from being required to pay overtime or provide other benefits due to employees of other Florida businesses.
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that regulates minimum wage, overtime pay, record-keeping, and child labor standards. It outlines a federal minimum wage and requires companies to pay employees an overtime rate of at least one-and-a-half times the regular wage.
Some of the employment practices the FLSA does not regulate include:
- Vacation, holiday, severance, or sick pay
- Meal or rest periods, holidays, or vacations
- Premium pay for weekend or holiday work
- Pay raises or fringe benefits
- Discharge notices, reasons for discharge, or immediate final payment to fired employees
The FLSA focuses on covering employees, so Uber and Lyft drivers are not protected under the FLSA. Some drivers have filed lawsuits against Uber, claiming Uber is violating the FLSA. With the U.S. district judge’s decision made it clear Uber and Lyft are not required to apply the FLSA regulations to their drivers.
Contact a Tampa Employment Attorney
If you feel your current or previous employer has violated your rights as an employee and/or independent contractor, or you have wages that have gone unpaid, contact the Tampa employment attorneys at Florin Gray to schedule a free consultation. Call (727) 254-5255 or fill out a contact form online.