Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Lyft Sued for Failing to Comply with Paid Sick Leave Law in Washington D.C. | D.C. Paid Sick Leave Rights

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Amid COVID-19 Pandemic, Lyft Sued for Failing to Comply with Paid Sick Leave Law in Washington D.C.

May 29, 2020 / Press Release / Outten & Golden LLP

Washington, DC—On May 29, 2020, Cassandra Osvatics filed a class action lawsuit against Lyft, Inc., one of the country’s largest rideshare companies, alleging that the company systematically fails to provide Washington D.C. drivers with paid sick leave under the District’s Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act (“ASSLA”).  The lawsuit alleges that with “the current COVID-19 pandemic, which some experts predict could last for years, the need for paid sick leave is vitally important.  Without it, Lyft forces its drivers into a Hobbesian choice: risk their lives (and the lives of their passengers) or risk their livelihoods.”

The D.C. Council first enacted the ASSLA over a decade ago, recognizing the importance of allowing workers to take the time needed to recover from an illness, or to care for a loved one recovering from an illness, without sacrificing their pay to do so.  The ASSLA provides most D.C. workers with up to seven days’ worth of paid leave after 90 days of employment.  In addition to providing leave for a medical illness or injury, the ASSLA also provides paid leave to obtain a medical diagnosis or preventative care or for victims of stalking, domestic violence, or sexual abuse. 

The complaint alleges that Lyft’s policy, on the other hand, is “an illusory ‘bait and switch.’”  It covers only those drivers formally “diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.”  The complaint alleges that this policy covers a significantly smaller percentage of workers than would be covered under the ASSLA.  

The complaint seeks a court order forcing Lyft to comply with the ASSLA and an award of monetary penalties to driver class members for Lyft’s failure to provide sick leave since it arrived in D.C. in 2013.

Sally J. Abrahamson, a Partner at Outten & Golden, said: “This lawsuit is critical to ensuring that frontline workers in Washington D.C. receive the benefit of the strong sick leave protections provided under D.C. law.” Christopher M. McNerney, an attorney at Outten & Golden, stated further: “Sick leave is a human right.  Now more than ever, during the COVID-19 pandemic drivers need the protection of paid time off when they or a family member gets sick.”

The class action lawsuit Osvatics v. Lyft, Inc., No. 20 Civ. 1426 (D.D.C. filed May 29, 2020), was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. More information is available at: https://www.dcpaidsickleave.com.

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Outten & Golden LLP focuses on advising and representing individuals in employment, partnership, and related workplace matters both domestically and internationally. The firm counsels individuals on employment and severance agreements; handles complex compensation and benefits issues (including bonuses, commissions, and stock/option agreements); and advises professionals (including doctors and lawyers) on contractual matters. It also represents employees with a wide variety of claims, including discrimination and harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, disability, national origin, religion, and age, and retaliation, whistleblower, and contract claims. The firm handles class actions involving a wide range of employment issues, including economic exploitation, gender- and race-based discrimination, wage-and-hour violations, and other systemic workers' rights issues.

Outten & Golden has nine practice groups: Executives & Professionals, Financial Services, Sexual Harassment & Sex Discrimination, Family Responsibilities & Disabilities Discrimination, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Workplace Rights, Discrimination & Retaliation, Whistleblower Retaliation, Class & Collective Actions, and WARN Act. 

For media inquiries, contact Christopher M. McNerney at (212) 245-1000.

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