In New York, a special short-term disability statute allows for workers across a wide variety of industries to enjoy some semblance of financial security when facing a short-term illness or injury. Unlike other states, many employers are legally required to offer short-term disability policies to their workers, provided those workers meet certain criteria.
One such criteria – which has proven problematic for the thousands of cab drivers in New York City – is reaching a status of “employee,” as opposed to independent contractor. The former status allows for a greater number of protections – including access to disability benefits – while the latter offers virtually no financial protection or security.
The current laws surrounding employment and disability status for taxi cab drivers are somewhat controversial. A recent change to the laws as relating the similarly-situated car wash industry, however, has offered taxi cab drivers (and their advocates) a renewed hope that the laws will soon turn in their favor, resulting in employment and benefits equality.
Recognizing the limitations imposed by the independent contractor status, the Taxi Workers Alliance began imposing a $0.06 fee on all fare payments tendered by credit card. Over time, this amounted to a sizable $1.4 million savings account reserved for those drivers who needed financial assistance during a time of short-term disability. However, in April 2014, a Manhattan trial court judge struck down the fund, holding that the TWA did not have the authority to impose the fee.
As the issue lingers on, taxi workers and advocates are hopeful that the recent classification of car wash workers as employees rather than independent contractors will help these hardworking employees obtain the disability and employment benefits they deserve. As a result of the recent ruling by the New York City Council, car washes are now subject to labor compliance oversight, random inspections, and severe penalties for failure to follow labor regulations.
If you are concerned about your short-term disability benefits, or would like to speak to a reputable attorney about the matter, please contact the New York City lawyers at the Seelig Law Offices today by calling (212) 766-0600.