Cabbies are Contractors, not employees, Court holds

Cabbies are Contractors, not employees, Court holds

Massachusetts’ top court says taxi drivers may be treated as independent contractors rather than employees.  This ruling should come as no surprise since taxi drivers have been being paid and treated as independent contractors almost everywhere for decades.  
The decision, reported by, is in response to a suit against traditional taxi companies. The report suggests that a different rule may apply to new wave companies like Uber and Lyft. Uber at least, is being sued in California, successfully so far, for denying employment benefits to its drivers. Uber has argued in response to that suit that its drivers — partners, it calls them– are also not employees.
The decision itself is here.

Abuse is only the beginning

In what may be a classic case of an everyday event becoming news simply because it was caught on video, a New York Police Department detective was forced to apologize when his angry exchange with an Uber driver went viral. The detective, Patrick Cherry, was placed on modified assignment. He also faces suspension, reassignment or loss of his clearance.

“I was just angry, at that moment, for that exchange.” Cherry said. “If the conversation initially went differently, we probably would have shook hands at the end of that encounter.”
According to a report by, The altercation began after the Uber driver gestured to a detective in an unmarked car to use his blinker after he was allegedly attempting to park without using it.

The video picks up seconds after the detective began yelling at the driver and mocking his accent, and also shows the unmarked car with lights flashing pulled over behind the Uber car. 

In the video, the detective tells the driver he has committed “three traffic and law violations” and then becomes irate and uses expletives toward the comparably calm driver. 

A visibly upset Police Commissioner William Bratton on Wednesday said the detective was placed on modified assignment pending an investigation. 

‘No good cop can watch that without a wince,’ [Bratton] told reporters. “As all good cops know … the officer made their jobs a little bit harder. That kind of anger like that is unacceptable in any encounter; discourtesy like that and language like that is unacceptable. That officer’s behavior reflected poorly on everyone who wears our uniform.”

    According to CNN, the Cherry added: “I’ve got news for you. The only reason you’re not in handcuffs and going to jail and getting summons in the precinct is because I have things to do. That’s the only reason that’s not happening. Because this isn’t important enough for me. You’re not important enough. Don’t ever do that again.”
    While the video makes good television, it highlights at least two larger, more serious issues: Cab drivers are continually subject to abusive language (and much worse) both from passengers and from law enforcement. If they retaliate or respond in kind, they face penalties from taxi regulators. Even worse, at least in New York, if a cab driver is arrested, his license may be immediately suspended, regardless of the circumstances, the paucity of evidence underlying the arrest and without regard to the driver’s record. This last policy is being challenged in a federal lawsuit called Nnebe v. Daus.