Uber Technologies and a subsidiary have submitted a payment of $100 million to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development after several audits found the ride-share company improperly classified hundreds of thousands of drivers as independent contractors.

State Labor Commissioner Rob Asaro-Angelo said this meant Uber drivers were deprived of crucial safety-net benefits.

“They were being denied many different rights that come with being an employee, whether it be minimum wage, overtime, but more important for this audit, contributions into the unemployment trust fund, temporary disability, family leave,” he said.

The $100 million payment to New Jersey’s Unemployment Insurance fund follows a series of audits performed by the Department of Labor between 2014 and 2018 that assessed Uber and subsidiary Rasier a combined $78 million in past-due contributions plus penalties and interest of $22 million.

During that time Asaro-Angelo noted many drivers applied for and received unemployment insurance benefits from the state.

A record-breaking case

Asaro-Angelo said this is the largest such payment ever received in New Jersey, covering 297,866 drivers.

“The fact that there was a large company out there — and there’s many others out there, by the way — who have not been paying, quite frankly, is deplorable, and we’re not going to stop in our fight to make sure that workers in New Jersey are protected,” he said.

Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin said “we will not tolerate companies that misclassify their workers, thereby denying employees vital benefits and dodging their obligation to contribute to programs that benefit the workforce.”

"By misclassifying workers, companies both harm their employees and sidestep their obligations under the law," Platkin said. "New Jersey will continue to enforce our employee misclassification laws aggressively to prevent such conduct.  As the economy changes, we will vigorously defend workers’ rights.”

Bored man at the wheel of his car sleeping

NJ helping other states

Asaro-Angelo said based on this case “we are very hopeful that other states will follow our lead, some states are already starting to take action against large employers who aren’t paying into the unemployment trust fund in their own states.”

He added New Jersey is one of the best states for workers' rights and “we’re not going to bow to the whims of some corporation’s latest business model that deprives any workers of those rights.”

David Matthau is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at david.matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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