Boston-Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly featured prominently the comments (and a photo) of Ben Robbins, NELF’s Senior Staff Attorney, in a November 18 online article discussing the First Circuit’s recent favorable decision in Cunningham et al. v. Lyft.
(For those readers who have a subscription to MLW, the article can be found at
In that case, the First Circuit agreed with NELF’s position and ruled that Lyft’s drivers are not “engaged in interstate commerce” and therefore do not qualify for the Federal Arbitration Act’s narrow “transportation worker exemption,” which applies to “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce.” This means that Lyft’s drivers cannot bring a class action in court against Lyft, on their claim that they have been misclassified as independent contractors, rather than as employees. Instead, the drivers must abide by the terms of their arbitration agreements with Lyft and arbitrate that claim, on an individual basis only. In the article,
Ben emphasized NELF’s position, as stated in its brief, that Lyft drivers are merely the modern-day equivalent of the local cab driver, and that the U.S. Supreme Court has long held that such drivers are not involved in interstate commerce when they drive passengers to and from their local destinations. Ben also explained in the article that NELF’s position, and the Court’s decision, merely treat Lyft drivers the same as all other workers who are subject to arbitration agreements governed by the FAA (other than those narrow categories of workers who qualify as true “transportation workers” under the FAA exemption).
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