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Driver Whose Face Was Slashed by a Passenger Suing Uber for Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Uber has faced opposition from members of its fleet, taxi drivers, and workers rights organizations.

Uber has faced opposition among taxi drivers and workers rights organizations

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An Uber X driver who had his face slashed in an unprovoked attack by a passenger has filed a lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court seeking workers’ compensation insurance coverage from Uber Technologies.  The lawsuit also seeks damages and penalties against Uber as well as class action status.  

56-year-old Adbo Ghazi is a janitor at a downtown building by day and former taxi driver by night. He switched to Uber after the ride sharing technology cut into his taxi wages.  The attack resulted in a broken nose, four puncture wounds to his face and lip, and lacerations.  The injuries and subsequent procedures caused him to miss work at both of his jobs for nearly two months.  He has since returned to work.

The lawsuit could have a major effect on Uber (and the on-demand economy as a whole), which labels its workers as independent contractors.  While some taxi drivers in San Francisco are also labeled as independent contractors, their employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which San Francisco taxi officials say costs about $5,000 per cab, per year. Since Uber’s inception, taxi officials have complained that Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have an unfair advantage in not having to protect their workers properly.

The lawsuit claims “Uber’s misclassification of drivers as independent contractors gave it an unfair advantage over competing transportation companies, harmed Uber drivers, and violated state law.”

This is the latest in a string of on-demand industry lawsuits, many of which seek employee, rather than independent contractor, status.  One of Ghazi’s lawyers, Alec Segarich, told The San Francisco Business Times that he was aware of similar lawsuits filed against Caviar, Homejoy, Instacart, Lyft, and Postmates.  As he told The Business Times:

“Our legal theory is that not providing workers compensation and misclassifying workers is an unfair business practice,” Segarich said.

“A lot of companies are trying to get out of pretty basic employment rights that have been around for a century. We think that just because you have an app it doesn’t change the employer-employee relationship, and that’s a lot of what this lawsuit is about.”


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