The Third Department, reversing the Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board, determined the drivers for the Park West limousine service were not employees and were not entitled to receive unemployment insurance benefits:
A driver apparently had full flexibility in deciding how much and how often to work; drivers would log on to the mobile application at the time and in the geographic zone in which they wanted to work, without an apparent requirement or expectation as to frequency or duration in any given period. The dispatch system would match the driver with work once the driver decided when and where to work … . The drivers determined the routes they wanted to take in transporting the passengers. Drivers had the freedom to utilize substitutes and to work for competitors while working for Park West, and they risked nonpayment of both fares and reimbursement of expenses in the event that the corporate client did not remit payment … . A witness for Park West testified that it encouraged drivers to attend informational sessions to learn how the dispatch system and application operated, as well as to dress and act professionally, so that drivers could maximize their own profits and have success in their entrepreneurial activity, but there was no set dress code … . Although Park West offered window signs to the drivers so that passengers could identify their rides, their use was not required.
… [T]he day-to- day activities of the drivers, including when and where they worked, were controlled by the decisions the drivers made themselves. The drivers had ultimate control over their vehicles and were solely responsible for maintenance and other related expenses in the ownership of their respective vehicles … . The requirements that Park West imposed with respect to licensing, registration and safety were necessitated by laws governing the industry and the rules of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission … . Although Park West acted as a liaison between drivers and clients when complaints arose, managing complaints from clients is not conclusive as to the type of employment relationship, as the “requirement that the work be done properly is a condition just as readily required of an independent contractor as of an employee” … . As such, we find that Park West’s control over the drivers was, at most, incidental … . Matter of Escoffery (Park W. Exec. Servs. Inc.–Commissioner of Labor), 2020 NY Slip Op 01422, Third Dept 2-27-20