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A New U.S. Department of Labor Rule May Mean Very Good News for Uber and Lyft Drivers in Illinois

A change in the federal regulations could have a massive impact on the people who drive for Uber or Lyft, including the thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers in Illinois. The removal of a rule released under the Trump Administration means that it will now be harder for companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as independent contractors (as opposed to employees,) which means it will be relatively easier for those drivers to obtain benefits like workers’ compensation. If you were hurt while driving for Uber or Lyft, be sure to act without delay in contacting a knowledgeable Chicago workers’ compensation lawyer.

Back in early January, the U.S. Department of Labor released a new rule that clarified who did – and did not – qualify as employees as opposed to independent contractors under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Under the standard created by that rule, it was relatively easier for employers to classify workers as independent contractors and not run afoul of the law and federal regulators.

Under the Biden Administration, that rule is no more. In withdrawing the rule effective May 6, the current Labor Department said that the previous rule did not properly reflect the text of the FLSA and relevant judicial rulings.

This change in course by the Labor Department could potentially have massive ramifications for people who work as drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft. Under the new rule, it will be significantly harder for those companies to classify workers as independent contractors and be in compliance.

That matters because, if the new rule shifts people like rideshare drivers from independent contractor status to employee status, then that opens the door to, as the Labor Department pointed out, “access to employer-provided fringe benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans”… and workers’ compensation.

Already, courts in some states have come to that conclusion. An appeals court in upstate New York ruled in December that an Uber driver qualified as an employee for purposes of unemployment benefits.

When courts make these determinations, the degree of control the company asserts is often a huge factor. The New York appeals court noted that Uber controls its drivers’ access to riders, sets their rates of compensation, and calculates and collects their fares. That, according to the court, was enough control to establish an employer-employee relationship.

Several Factors Go into Deciding Who’s Eligible for Workers’ Comp in Illinois

Here in Illinois, the law says that your employer classifying you as an independent contractor does not automatically doom your hopes of collecting workers’ compensation benefits. That is just one of a number of factors that are involved in determining whether you are an independent contractor or an employee for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation benefits in Illinois.

If you’ve been hurt while you were driving for Lyft or Uber, you need a knowledgeable attorney to help you assess your potential claim. Rely on the highly skilled Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca to be your trusted advisor and advocate in helping you to obtain all of the benefits that you deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 800-444-1525 or through our website.

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