On the heels of the NYC Council passing (and the mayor signing into law) a bill requiring minimum payments for ride-sharing drivers and a one-year freeze on the number of ride-sharing vehicle licenses issued, the NYC Council just passed another six new bills aimed at protecting both taxi drivers and ride-sharing drivers. The bills, approved by the Council on November 14 and expected to soon be signed into law by Mayor DeBlasio, are focused not only on drivers’ pay, but also on the financial and mental well-being of drivers in the wake of a spate of recent driver suicides and some of the more macro-economic issues facing the taxi and ride-sharing industries in NYC.
Two Bills Focused on Drivers’ Pay
Int. No. 1062-A ensures that the risk of loss for a transaction that fails on a completed ride-sharing trip is placed on the ride-sharing service. If a transaction fails for a completed trip, the ride-sharing service must ensure that the driver still receives the entire amount owed for the completed trip. A ride-sharing service that violates the law is liable for a civil penalty of between $250 and $500 for each offense.
Int. No. 1096 requires that ride-sharing services will not make automatic deductions from driver earnings to make payments for the rental, lease, or purchase of a vehicle, unless the automatic deduction is optional and has been chosen by the driver.
Two Bills Focused on Drivers’ Financial and Mental Well-Being
In the last year, eight drivers have committed suicide, with large debt incurred from being a driver cited as the reason. In order to combat this growing crisis, the NYC Council passed two bills. The first would require the Taxi and Limousine Commission to engage in financial education and outreach for drivers concerning financial arrangements relating to taxi medallions and ride-sharing services (Int. No. 1068), and the second would provide financial counseling, mental health services, and referrals to non-profit organizations that could offer additional assistance (Int. No. 1081).
Two Bills Focused on Macro-Economic Issues in the Taxi and Ride-Sharing Industry and Diversity and Inclusiveness
Int. No. 0304 would establish a task force to study the sale prices of taxicab medallions by reviewing sale prices of taxicab medallions and their impact on NYC’s budget, and, within six months, recommending to the Council and Mayor changes to laws, rules, regulations, and policies related to medallions. Finally, Int. No. 1079 would establish an Office of Inclusion within the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission, which would be responsible for promoting diversity, inclusion, and cultural sensitivity in the taxi and ride-sharing industry.
These six new bills, along with the new laws passed by the NYC Council in August, demonstrate that NYC is determined to increase regulation of all aspects of the taxi and ride-sharing industry, from pay to economics to discrimination. NYC has often been at the forefront of employment regulation (for example, its Earned Sick and Safe Time Act), so It is important for businesses to monitor these developments as they could serve as a roadmap for other jurisdictions to regulate the ride-sharing industry, or even for NYC to regulate other gig businesses.