Weekly Round-Up: Uber & Lyft Deactivation Policy Under Fire

Would you like to see rideshare drivers unionize? That and other action on deactivations and minimum pay are up for debate in several cities and states.

That, and much more in the rideshare and delivery world, with senior RSG contributor Paula Lemar in this week’s round-up.

Column: Uber and Lyft’s ‘Deactivation’ Policy is Dehumanizing and Unfair. It Must End.


By any metric, James Jordan was an exemplary Uber driver. Starting in 2016, he worked 10 hours a day, six days a week. Over the course of 5½ years, he logged 27,000 trips and maintained a rating of 4.95.

He drove so much because he needed the cash. A 55-year-old single father of five in Inglewood, there were plenty of expenses, and Uber was his family’s source of income. Then, one day in March 2022, that source was abruptly shut off.

He had been driving in the morning when he logged off to pick up his daughter. When he opened his phone to prepare for his next shift, he got the message: He’d been “permanently deactivated” — the gig work industry’s euphemism for fired….

My Take

I mean, agreed. It’s random at best. The fact that Uber and Lyft dance around the reasoning why you’re deactivated is confusing at best. How can you refute it if you’re not even told what you did wrong? How are they “investigating” a passenger claim when they aren’t asking for your side of the story or asking for any evidence you might have to prove your innocence?

The platforms often say they give plenty of warnings before actually deactivating drivers, but we’ve heard complaints from drivers for years stating the opposite. No warnings, no explanation, just a message when you try to log in the next time you’re ready to work saying you’re not allowed.

There are a handful of deactivation issues you can actually fight back against.

What Do You Use Rideshare For? It Depends On Your Bank Account


When you open a rideshare app, where are you usually going?

Your answer likely depends on all sorts of unique factors. If your job involves frequent travel, for example, you probably hail rides to the airport; if you don’t own a car, you may use rideshare to run errands. But underlying all these possible use cases is one powerfully predictive data point: your bank account.

New research from Lyft reveals that rideshare use varies dramatically with income level. The company surveyed more than 30,000 riders across the U.S. and Canada and discovered that those with medium and high household incomes are more likely to hail a ride for leisure activities like bars, travel, and restaurants. Meanwhile, a greater percentage of lower-income passengers depend on rideshare for vital services like getting to work and healthcare appointments.

“This is the first time we’ve asked riders about where they are going and analyzed it by income,” says Sarah Cormack-Patton, Ph.D., Lyft’s policy research manager. “The pattern is very clear across all categories.”…

My Take

The headline does say it all. It depends on your bank account. I don’t use it for my work commute, though I have used it occasionally (if my car broke down or the buses stopped running thanks to the snow).

Considering myself to be in the middle-income group, I typically use the platforms for when I’m going out with friends and need a sober ride home and when I’m coming home from a vacation and need to be picked up at the airport.

By no means are Uber and Lyft necessary for me. I could easily use a taxi to their place, though I tend not to because that’s a more expensive and often uncomfortable option.

Nine times out of 10, I drive myself wherever I need to go. I don’t rely on public transportation or alternative transportation like Uber and Lyft.

I know I have a unique experience compared with others. Some do have to rely on Uber and Lyft to get to their destination on a regular basis, for their daily needs.

Uber and Lyft Drivers Receive a Delayed Raise After Three Strikes and a Lawsuit in New York


After three driver strikes and a lawsuit, the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission on Wednesday approved a raise in rates for tens of thousands of ride-hailing drivers that should begin next week.

Drivers for Uber Technologies Inc. UBER and Lyft Inc. LYFT had been fighting to increase their pay since last year when they complained that the ride-hailing companies had enacted fuel surcharges in response to the rising costs of fuel in other places but not New York City. The Taxi and Limousine Commission in November proposed a pay increase for drivers — in addition to scheduled annual increases — but Uber sued to block it and a judge agreed that the commission had not included its calculations to show justification for the increase.

According to calculations included in the commission’s final proposal, the drivers will receive an 8.78% increase from the rates that were in effect from March 2022 through January 2023, starting Monday.

“I’m excited that we have come to a rule that has worked for everyone,” said David Do, commissioner, and chair of the commission, during a meeting Wednesday, which was live-streamed….

My Take

Did strikes make a difference for Uber and Lyft drivers? Well, if you read the headline, that’s how I would take it.

It’s not often that strikes for non-unionized workers can make this kind of impact. I say congrats to the Uber and Lyft drivers of New York City!

We have been following their story for several months now. The city said these drivers should get a raise, then of course, it went to court because Uber and Lyft didn’t want to give the raise.

The courts ruled in favor of Uber and Lyft. And now we’re back again, and it sounds like the drivers will receive their promised pay raise. What an exciting day, indeed!

Uber Concerned about Proposed Colorado Bill Regarding Driver Terminations


Rideshare company Uber is speaking out against a proposed Colorado bill that would allow drivers who are terminated to pursue an administrative review.

Senate Bill 23-098 would require delivery or rideshare companies to provide transparency regarding fares and the amount that goes to the driver. It would also require transparency about its driver termination and rehiring procedure. Under the bill, drivers who are terminated would be allowed an administrative review, which would be overseen by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.

“Arbitrary deactivations do occur where people are just terminated from the app. They don’t really have a good reason why and they don’t have an opportunity to appeal that decision,” said Rep. Stephanie Vigil, D-Colorado Springs. 

The bill passed its first committee last month…. 

My Take

Anything that the rideshare driving platforms speak out against is usually something that will benefit drivers. So, I’m on the side of Colorado right now.

This goes back to what I was saying above about deactivations. They are done willy-nilly, without explanation, without a chance for rebuttal in many cases and without an opportunity to even learn from potential mistakes. How can drivers do better if they don’t know what was done wrong in the first place?

The platforms need to be better about explaining why drivers are deactivated and actually give drivers a chance to speak their part. But until someone holds the platforms accountable, they will continue doing what they have done without repercussions.

Ride-Hailing Drivers Rally In Support of Bill Allowing Them To Unionize


A group of about 30 ride-hailing drivers gathered in front of the State House Tuesday to push lawmakers to pass a bill that would grant such workers the right to unionize in Massachusetts.

Known among drivers as “Rideshare Drivers Justice Bill,” (SD 1162 and HD 2071) the act was filed by lead sponsors Rep. Frank Moran, state Sen. Liz Miranda and state Sen. Jason Lewis, and is backed by the Drivers Demand Justice coalition. It would grant drivers access to collective bargaining rights, discrimination protection, unemployment insurance, paid sick time and guaranteed minimum wage.

Companies such as Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) and Lyft Inc. (Nasdaq: LYFT) consider their drivers to be independent contractors, which don’t have a federal right to form a union. The National Labor Relations Act protects that right for employees, but explicitly excludes independent contractors. 

However, not everyone agrees with that classification, and Massachusetts is a key battleground in the debate over drivers’ rights and status. In 2020, when Maura Healey was still serving as the state’s attorney general, she sued Uber and Lyft alleging that drivers should be classified as employees under state law. That lawsuit is still ongoing…. 

My Take

This wouldn’t be the first rideshare drivers union in the United States, but it would be the first on the east coast. Previously, Seattle fought for driver unionization and won.

Unionizing could lead to drivers having more power over the platforms in charge of setting their payments that give out deactivations without notice. Seattle now has a minimum wage for drivers and a more robust way of fighting wrongful deactivations.

Those are the two big factors that drivers have the biggest complaints about, so giving the drivers the power to impact those would potentially increase the driver satisfaction for those platforms.

Uber and Lyft Would Have to Pay Drivers’ Expenses, Minimum Wage Under Minnesota Proposal


Minnesota lawmakers are considering a sweeping set of labor standards for Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, and similar companies, which would upend the laissez-faire relationship between tech giants and their workforce of independent contractors. 

Under a bill (SF2319) proposed by state Democrats, Uber, and Lyft would have to pay drivers for fuel and car maintenance, as well as insurance for drivers’ injuries comparable to workers’ compensation. The companies would have to pay drivers a minimum rate for each fare or cancellation, which is expected to lead to higher prices for consumers. 

The bill would also bar Uber, Lyft, and similar firms — referred to in the legislation as “transportation network companies” —  from dropping workers from their apps without reason and without an opportunity for appeal.

“Minnesota has long assured its workers a safe and fair workplace … Over the last decade, a new industry has come into our state that circumvents nearly every one of these protections: that is (transportation network companies), most prominently Uber and Lyft,” said Sen. Omar Fateh, a Democrat from Minneapolis and chief author of the bill, during the Senate’s Labor Committee hearing on Tuesday…. 

My Take

Another state is tackling the pay issue with rideshare drivers. I am actually from the Minneapolis area, and when I started rideshare driving in 2016, I earned a lot more overall than I would now, which is one of the reasons why I don’t actually drive for rideshare anymore.

With the pay cuts that Uber and Lyft have doled out over the years, it’s a wonder any drivers are still on the road. Granted, if Uber and Lyft started paying for fuel and car maintenance, that’s one less thing drivers can deduct at tax time.

That would cover the mileage rate set by the IRS. Currently, drivers can deduct mileage from their taxes to help lower their taxable income from these platforms.