The Third Department determined drivers who work for Groundanywhere, like the drivers who work for Uber, are employees not independent contractors, entitled to unemployment insurance benefits:
Shortly after the [Unemployment Insurance Appeal] Board’s decision here, we held that substantial evidence supported the Board’s determination that drivers for Uber Technologies, Inc in upstate New York were employees of Uber … . We find that the relationship between Groundanywhere and its drivers is not materially distinguishable from the employment relationship between Uber and its drivers. The record reflects that Groundanywhere uses a smartphone app that is essentially similar to the one used by Uber and exercises a comparable level of control over its drivers, providing substantial evidence to support the Board’s finding that claimant and other similarly situated drivers were employees entitled to unemployment insurance benefits and for whom Groundanywhere was liable for additional contributions … . The indicia of control include use of an app owned by Groundanywhere, which reviews and screens drivers’ various credentials and inspects their vehicles for compliance with its standards, provides drivers with a GPS navigation system, tests their knowledge of geography and ability to use GPS, and handles both driver and client complaints and problems that arise during the transport. Groundanywhere coordinates and oversees all aspects of the ride through its app, tracking the drivers and the ride on GPS and running a help desk for the drivers and controlling the drivers’ access to its clients. Groundanywhere sets and calculates the fares, keeps a set percent as a fee, charges the client a processing fee, adds a gratuity which, if disputed by the client, results in the driver getting a higher percent of the fare in lieu of a gratuity, collects the charges from the client and pays a percent of the base charge to the drivers, who are paid even if the client fails to show up for the trip or disputes the charges. Although drivers use and maintain their own vehicles and pay all vehicle expenses, they display a Groundanywhere logo and are reimbursed for tolls and parking costs. Clients are able to rate drivers, who are selected based upon their location, ratings and history of accepting offered fares. Matter of Hossain (Groundanywhere LLC–Commissioner of Labor), 2022 NY Slip Op 03424, Third Dept 5-26-22
Practice Point: Uber drivers, and drivers for similar outfits like Groundanywhere, are employees, not independent contractors, entitled to unemployment insurance benefits.