July 19, 2022
Pressley, Markey, Warren Criticize App-Based Delivery Companies’ “Blatant Disregard” for Worker Safety
In response to last month’s calls from Congress, Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Grubhub,
and Instacart refuse to meet lawmakers’ demands for increased worker safety
measures following disturbing report on dozens of worker deaths
WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led their colleagues Senators Richard Blumenthal (D.Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Representatives Stephen Lynch (MA-08) and Seth Moulton (MA-06) in criticizing app-based delivery companies Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Instacart for their refusal to disclose additional data on workplace deaths or injuries, and their unwillingness to strengthen worker health and safety protections following calls from the lawmakers in June.
In a letter last month, the lawmakers called on the app-based delivery companies to provide additional information on worker safety incidents and commit to implementing new policies to protect app-based workers and compensate them for on-the-job injuries or deaths. The lawmakers’ push came in the wake of a recent report, published by advocacy group Gig Workers Rising, which found that at least 50 app-based workers have been killed on the job in the United States since 2017, and that 63 percent of the app-based workers killed in the last five years were people of color.
“Every one of these app-based delivery companies has demonstrated a blatant disregard for the health and safety of their workers,” the lawmakers said. “While dozens of their workers have been killed on-the-job in the past five years, these companies still refuse to provide their workers with basic compensation and support to perform their jobs safely.
“In particular, DoorDash, Grubhub, and Instacart’s refusal to provide data on workplace injuries and deaths is inexcusable. What do these companies have to hide? This information is essential to understanding the workplace dangers that app-based workers face every day,” the lawmakers continued. “Uber, Lyft, and Grubhub clearly have the financial resources to offer free injury protection insurance to their workers. Their refusal to do so is another shameful example of app-based delivery companies prioritizing profit over worker safety.”
In their June letters, the lawmakers requested that each company (1) explain how it classifies an app-based delivery worker as “working;” (2) provide data on worker safety incidents over the past five years and commit to regularly releasing such data in the future; (3) explain if the company notifies workers of ongoing emergencies or dangerous situations; (4) explain if the company notifies family members or next-of-kin if a worker dies on the job; (5) provide data on compensation paid to app-based delivery workers or their families for an on-the-job injury or death; (6) commit to providing occupational injury protection insurance to their workers; and (7) commit to eliminating arbitration agreements from its contracts with app-based delivery workers.
The companies answered the questions in the following manner:
- Question 1: Lyft defined a driver as working only “when the driver chooses to accept a ride offer and is on the way to pick up the passenger” and during “all time spent completing the ride.” However, the company pointedly does not consider the time in between rides when a driver is locating a new customer as worktime. Uber, DoorDash, Instacart, and Grubhub did not provide their definitions for when an app-based delivery worker is “working.”
- Question 2: Uber and Lyft referred the lawmakers to their safety reports released in 2019 and 2021, respectively. As the lawmakers explained in their letter, these reports lack important information on worker safety incidents. DoorDash, Instacart, and Grubhub refused to provide any information on worker safety incidents and did not commit to regularly releasing such data.
- Question 3: DoorDash explained that it may notify drivers of emergencies and may reduce or suspend operations in an area depending on the severity of the ongoing emergency. Grubhub explained that it informs drivers of weather conditions, safety alerts, and large-scale events using its in-app messaging system and will suspend operations on a case-by-case basis. Uber, Lyft, and Instacart did not explain whether they notify drivers of potential emergencies.
- Question 4: Lyft and DoorDash answered that, if a safety incident occurs, theyattempt to contact the worker and, if the worker cannot be reached, the worker’s family is contacted. Uber, Instacart, and Grubhub did not explain if they seek to contact a worker’s family if a worker dies on the job.
- Question 5: Lyft explained that its support for an injured or killed worker “can include financial assistance,” but did not provide any information on compensation paid to workers or their family for on-the-job worker injuries or deaths. Uber, DoorDash, Instacart, and Grubhub did not provide any data on compensation paid for on-the-job worker injuries or deaths.
- Question 6: DoorDash provides free, automatic occupational accident insurance to drivers—with no deductibles, co-pays, or premiums—for drivers’ on-the-job injuries and deaths, covering medical expenses up to $1 million, disability payments, and survivor benefits for eligible dependents. Instacart also provides free, automatic injury insurance to full-service shoppers—also with no deductibles, co-pays, or premiums—for injuries that occur “when they are en route to the store, shopping, or delivering with Instacart,” covering “certain medical expenses, disability payments, and accidental death benefits.” Uber makes opt-in, paid insurance available to its drivers in 41 states and Washington, D.C. Lyft maintains auto insurance policies for worker injuries resulting from a motor vehicle crash but does not cover injuries from physical assaults or other incidents unrelated to an auto accident. Grubhub does not appear to offer any form of occupational injury insurance to its workers. The companies all comply with California and New York laws on this issue.
- Question 7: Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash explained that drivers can opt out of arbitration agreements. Instacart and Grubhub did not explain if workers are required to bring claims through arbitration. No company committed to eliminating arbitration agreements.
A copy of the full responses from the companies can be found here.