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Press Release AG Healey Advocates for Paid Sick Leave for Ride-Share Drivers During COVID-19 Pandemic

For immediate release:
3/27/2020
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
  • The Attorney General's Fair Labor Division

Media Contact for AG Healey Advocates for Paid Sick Leave for Ride-Share Drivers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Meggie Quackenbush

BostonAttorney General Maura Healey today filed amicus briefs in support of Uber and Lyft drivers seeking paid sick leave during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to protect themselves and members of the public from the spread of the disease.

In the two briefs, filed today in Capriole v. Uber and Cunningham v. Lyft in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, AG Healey supports an emergency motion for preliminary injunctive relief for ride-share drivers under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time law. In both cases, drivers are seeking a determination that they are Uber and Lyft employees, not independent contractors, under the Massachusetts Wage and Hour Laws. The AG’s Office argues that paid sick time for these workers is vitally important to allow drivers who are sick to stay home, seek treatment, and avoid spreading the virus. 

“Uber and Lyft should immediately step up and provide paid sick leave to drivers who are working during this public health crisis,” said AG Healey. “We support efforts to protect the health of our ride-share drivers and prevent the spread of this highly-contagious virus.”

The AG’s Office writes that while ride-share drivers are considered essential workers during this crisis for the transportation services they provide, they lack basic protections and benefits like paid sick time because they are treated as independent contractors by their employers. Without adequate paid sick time, drivers are forced to choose between providing transportation services to the public while they or members of their household are sick, or risk losing their source of income. The AG’s Office argues that drivers are more likely to work while they are sick if they can’t get paid time off when needed, putting themselves and the public they serve at risk. 

While Uber and Lyft have reportedly offered drivers some emergency paid sick leave, it remains unclear who would be able to access it and how they can use it.

Under the Massachusetts Earned Sick Time Law, employers with 11 or more employees must provide paid leave to allow employees to care for themselves or family members who are sick. Workers are entitled to 40 hours of paid sick time and can choose when they use that time. The law applies whether a worker is employed on a full-time, part-time, seasonal or temporary basis, and workers must be paid what they would have earned if they had worked.

The AG’s Office has urged Massachusetts employers to allow employees liberal access to paid leave during the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate compliance with state and federal public health recommendations. The Office led a group of 15 attorneys general calling on Amazon and Whole Foods to strengthen paid sick and family leave for their employees during the pandemic, and created guidelines for employee rights and employer obligations during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

AG Healey’s Fair Labor Division is responsible for enforcing state laws regulating the payment of wages, including minimum wage, overtime and earned sick time laws. Call the AG’s Fair Labor hotline at 617-727-3465 for more information on the state’s earned sick time laws, or file a complaint online if you think your rights have been violated.

Visit the AG’s COVID-19 resource page for information about how the AG’s Office can help during this crisis. 

This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Karla Zarbo of the AG’s Fair Labor Division.

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Media Contact for AG Healey Advocates for Paid Sick Leave for Ride-Share Drivers During COVID-19 Pandemic

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The Attorney General's Fair Labor Division 

The Attorney General’s Fair Labor Division protects workers from exploitation and sets a level playing field for employers. We enforce wage and hour, public construction, and child labor laws.

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, walk-ins to the AG’s physical office locations will not receive in-person service. Walk-ins will be encouraged to file complaints online or call our office.
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