News & Commentary

October 28, 2020

Leigh Thomas

Leigh Thomas is a student at Harvard Law School.

An Uber driver filed a class action lawsuit on Monday accusing the company of intentional race discrimination in violation of Title VII. The alleged discrimination is tied to customer evaluations of drivers. The complaint alleges “Uber is aware that passengers are prone to discriminate in their evaluation of drivers, but Uber has continued to use this system,” making it liable for intentional race discrimination, according to Bloomberg News. The named plaintiff Thomas Liu claims he experienced signs of bias from customers, and that Uber terminated him when his average rating fell below its minimum of 4.6. This lawsuit is one of many moves and countermoves in the fight over the employee status of Uber drivers. Uber claims that its drivers are independent contractors, and therefore are not covered by the employment protections in Title VII. The timing of the lawsuit is notable, just one week away from the results of California’s state referendum on Prop 22.

Another consequential ballot initiative for workers is Florida’s Amendment 2, which if approved would incrementally increase the minimum wage in Florida to $15/month by 2026. The Orlando Sentinel reports that labor unions and the business lobby have both poured money into the campaign surrounding the constitutional amendment. SEIU Florida has spent at least $1.05 million since late September to help support the amendment.

The New York City MTA announced yesterday its new plan for weekly testing of thousands of workers. The goal of the new testing program will be to test 15% of frontline workers weekly. The President of Transport Workers Union Local 100 called it “a huge step” for protecting workers from a possible second wave. Testing will take place at field cites and results will be available within 24 to 48 hours.

A new study by the CDC indicates that among health care workers, nurses are at particular risk of contracting Covid-19. The study examined hospitalization data from thirteen sites, finding that 36% of health care personnel hospitalized for Covid-19 infections were nurses. The findings highlight the need for continued infection prevention and control in health care settings. According to The New York Times, personal protective equipment shortages have increased during the newest surge of Covid-19 cases. Nurses unions have been instrumental in fighting for PPE and other safety measures for hospital workers. Michelle Mahon, the assistant director of nursing practice at the union National Nurses United, called the results of the CDC study no surprise, and affirmed that nurses need more testing to quickly isolate infection and prevent spread.

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.