Lawsuits and Legislation in NYC – Food Tank


New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced the implementation of a minimum wage policy for app-based restaurant delivery workers. But lawsuits from Uber, DoorDash, and GrubHub are preventing the policy from going into effect.

The win was the result of a two-year legislative process between lawmakers and Los Deliveristas Unidos, an advocacy group that led the movement to establish better pay and working conditions for delivery workers.

In response, DoorDash and Grubhub filed a joint lawsuit calling the new rule “unlawful, arbitrary and capricious.” The lawsuit claims the DCWP’s analysis of the regulation would add an average of $5.18 per order.

In a separate suit, Uber also pushed back against the decision. Josh Gold, a spokesperson for Uber believes that this rule could be damaging for restaurants, consumers, and couriers. Gold states, “They are telling apps: eliminate jobs, discourage tipping, force couriers to go faster and accept more trips—that’s how you’ll pay for this.”

As a result of the pushback, while the law was slated to go into effect in early summer, a state judge delayed its implementation by issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) while litigation is ongoing.

Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga from the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) states, “We are extremely disappointed that the apps are delaying the implementation of the minimum pay rate. These apps currently pay workers far below the minimum wage, and this pay rate would help lift thousands of working New Yorkers and their families out of poverty.”

Under the new policy, delivery workers are set to earn a minimum of US$17.96 per hour excluding tips, a figure that will rise to US$19.86 by 2025 and be adjusted annually for inflation. This announcement followed the passing of Local Law 115 by the New York City Council in September 2021, which led to an investigation by the DCWP into the pay and working conditions of app-based food delivery workers. According to a news release from New York City, food delivery workers currently make around US$7.09 per hour.

Ligia Guallpa, Director of the Worker’s Justice Project, parent organization of Los Deliveristas Unidos, states that “At this moment, we’re setting a wage floor for an industry that pretty much was excluded from minimum wage laws to other labor protections…becoming the first city to pretty much establish a minimum pay rate for a workforce that are completely excluded from labor protections that have been established in labor laws in the United States.”

Delivery companies have been given the flexibility to decide how to compensate their workers, if the minimum hourly pay rate is met. This can take the form of hourly wages, pay per trip, or another method.

This policy is designed to support delivery workers who have been on the front lines since the start of the pandemic. In a statement announcing the law, Adams affirms the rule would “guarantee these workers and their families can earn a living, access greater economic stability, and help keep our city’s legendary restaurant industry thriving.”

“Our delivery workers have consistently delivered for us—now, we are delivering for them,” Adams says.

As the legal and social discourse around this policy evolves, the Workers Justice Project and Los Deliveristas Unidos are focused on educating workers about this new rule, as well as continuing their campaign to convert newsstands to rest stops for delivery workers.

“We look forward to a quick decision so that the dignified pay rate that workers deserve to earn is not delayed any more than necessary,” Mayuga states.

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Photo courtesy of Robinson Greig, Unsplash

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