Teamsters Object to $27 Million Lyft Deal, but are Rejected

Katie when teamsters’ objected to the proposed $27 million settlement between Lyft and the class of 163,000 California drivers, their objection was rejected by a federal judge. But the same judge also delayed finalizing the proposed deal.

The case has been all over the news and many have heard bits and pieces as the proceedings proceed. To recap, the Uber Lyft Teamsters Ride Share Alliance (known as ULTRA) filed a brief opposing the deal in October. Claims were made that the proposed settlement fails to adequately compensate full-time drivers and also forces workers to waive their right to sue the company due to Fair Labor Standards Act violations. During settlement approval, the U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria appeared to become frustrated when the objecting attorney did not provide specific information supporting his argument that the deal should be rejected. The attorney argued that doubling compensation for individuals who driver 30+ hours per week for Lyft was not adequate because that would leave part-time drivers with a fairly high compensation for their work in comparison to full-time drivers. Yet could not tell the judge what he suggested an appropriate multiplier should be for full-time workers.

A similar argument occurred when the attorney suggested more data would be necessary in order to come up with such a number and the judge asked what data was necessary only to have the attorney unable to say precisely what data he would need to calculate the needed number.   

Other issues discussed during the proceedings were: the settlement provision shielding Lyft from lawsuits over alleged Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) violations and the workers’ right to opt in to waive their rights to sue, the addition of the condition post- Cotter v. Lyft suit, and appropriate (and timely) notification to workers of the settlement terms and their rights to opt out or object to the deal, the inability to access the actual text of the agreement online, and adequate time for class members to object to the motion for attorneys’ fees (13.6% or $3.67 million in fees), objections regarding Lyft policy and procedure being inadequate in the case of a deaf driver,

According to attorney for the plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit against Lyft, 84,000 drivers (or 51% of the class) have filed claims for reimbursement so far. As of mid-November, attorneys estimated that drivers who drove over 2,000 hours for the rideshare service since May 2012 should receive distributions of about $11,000 for vehicle expenses reimbursement and unpaid overtime wages. As part of the settlement, drivers would agree to waive their claims that Lyft misclassified them as independent contractors in order to be denied employment benefits. Drivers may continue to submit claims for a portion of the settlement up until the first distribution is allocated to drivers in the class, which should occur about six months after final approval of the settlement is granted by the judge.

For additional information about overtime pay, overtime pay violations or class action certification, please get in touch with one of the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.