Under new legislation proposed and approved by New York City officials, food service workers will now enjoy greater protection and an increase in the minimum pay they can receive for their services. These reforms will allow hard-working service industry employees to receive fairer wages for the work they perform while promoting a safer and more equitable situation for workers in what is known as the gig economy.

Impossible Working Conditions for Low Pay

Many New Yorkers and others across the country expressed concern and outrage when periodicals published pictures and videos of food delivery workers traveling through floodwaters to deliver meals during and after Hurricane Ida hit the city. These images demonstrated the dilemma of these workers, many of whom depend on tips from customers to manage their financial responsibilities. Most of these workers do not have medical insurance and provide their own transportation to perform these vital services.

Underpaid and Exploited

According to data collected by the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University and the Workers Justice Project, about 42 percent of food delivery workers for services like Grubhub, Uber Eats, and Doordash reported that they had been underpaid or, in some cases, not paid at all. Almost half of those surveyed reported being in an accident when delivering food. Worse yet, 54 percent of these workers reported that they had been robbed on the job. These horrifying statistics highlight the dangers of the gig economy and the workers who fuel its success.

What the New Legislation Will Do

The legislation just passed by New York City will provide some solid protections for workers who deliver food in the city. Some of the most important provisions of the new legislation include the following:

  • Prohibiting fees charged by companies to issue payments to their delivery workers
  • Enforcing transparency in corporate tipping and gratuity practices
  • Allowing workers to set their own parameters for the trips they make on behalf of their employers
  • Preventing companies from making delivery workers purchase their own insulated food bags
  • Making sure that restaurants allow workers to use their restrooms when picking up food for delivery

However, many worker advocates still feel that the new legislation falls short in providing benefits to these vulnerable workers. Under the provisions of this legislative package, for instance, workers will still be considered to be independent contractors. This classification prevents delivery workers from receiving unemployment benefits or workers’ compensation if they cannot work or are terminated from their employment with the food delivery app platforms. Many workers are immigrants who work long hours to make enough money to support themselves and their family members. Making sure that these individuals are treated fairly and receive the wages to which they are legally entitled is what we do at Risman & Risman, P.C.

Protecting the Rights of Gig Workers

At Risman & Risman, P.C., we are committed to helping workers protect their rights to a safe working environment, fair compensation, and equitable employment practices. Our team can help to level the playing field for you in disputes with your employer. Give us a call today at 212-233-6400 to discuss your case or to request more information from us.

We look forward to the opportunity to protect your legal rights in and out of the workplace.

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