Federal Lawsuit: Lyft drivers being underpaid by company

Posted at 10:34 PM, Feb 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-14 00:09:16-05

Some drivers for a ride-sharing company say they're being ripped off.  Now there's a federal lawsuit filed against Lyft. The I-Team looked into whether the company is being upfront about what it's charging riders. 

The Lyft drivers who drove us around town couldn't believe what happened at the end of our ride. Lyft charged us more than the total that showed up on the driver's phone.  We spent some time with Lyft drivers, running up the miles on Milwaukee streets, to see if what the company charged us was the same amount being reported to the driver. 

Mike Walker just started driving for Lyft.  One of his part-time jobs to help make ends meet.  The week we rode with him, Mike was able to bring in $750 picking up customers for both Uber and Lyft.

We drove about 13 miles with Mike.  In his car for 40 minutes, the ride cost us $25.71.  The fare Lyft reported to Mike was $23.96.  "That's deceptive," he told us.  "I didn't know that you were paying more.  I've never really had a situation where I could see the other side of the transaction."
Mike's Lyft fees were taken out of the lower fare. "So there's like 10% missing between what you're seeing and what I'm seeing," Mike said.
A class action lawsuit, filed in federal court against Lyft, accuses the company of deceiving drivers and underpaying them.  Attorney Steve Mashel told us, "they've been deprived the full value of the contract that they entered into with Lyft."  Mashel represents a New Jersey Lyft driver in this case.  He claims the company continues to breach the "Terms of Service" drivers sign.  "What the rider is quoted should be the basis off of which the fare to the driver should be calculated."

In the lawsuit Mashel alleges Lyft is hiding the fare discrepancy.  He believes it should be clearly disclosed in its contracts. "This is after ride, after ride, after ride, it mounts up."  On all our rides there was a difference in the fare Lyft charged us and what the company showed the driver we paid.  One driver did the math and told us, "I guess after 250 rides if they did a dollar, that's $250 they got me for." 

Mike wants Lyft to be up front about the difference in fares, for both drivers and riders.  "For something like this to just be flying under the radar and nobody knows about it? It's wrong.  Just totally wrong."

Mashel told us drivers across the country have sent him examples of fare discrepancies ranging from 15 cents to as much as $8 a ride.

Lyft has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.  A spokesperson wouldn't comment directly on pending litigation but did tell us passenger pricing and driver pay are based on different factors.  When Lyft quotes a price in advance to the passenger it uses estimated time and distance.  Driver fare, is based on actual time and distance at the end of the ride. 

Mashel wants to hear from driverswho believe they've been underpaid.