Isabella Lewis was driving for Lyft on a Sunday in Plano, Texas last August when she was the victim of a carjacking and killed by her passenger. As his family tried to piece together what happened, they kept getting calls from an insurance company they didn’t recognize, but eventually realized it was Lyft’s insurer, who wanted to inspect Lewis’ car to determine if it would pay to repair the damaged windshield and clean up his blood.
To date, however, his family says they have had no communication from anyone with Lyft headquarters.
“The only thing we heard from Lyft was when they said in the Dallas newspaper that their hearts were with us,” Lewis’ sister Allyssa said in an interview with The edge. “I wish [Lyft] handled the situation with more empathy. We didn’t feel like anyone was supporting us, as his family. The fare for the ride was only $15, Allyssa added. Her family had to fundraise for Isabella’s funeral on GoFundMe.
Lyft did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The edge.
Lewis is one of more than 50 worker drivers killed on the job since 2017, according to a new report by advocacy group Gig Workers Rising, compiled using publicly available information, including news articles, reports from police and GoFundMe campaigns. It highlights the risks of gig work and the fact that families often have little or no communication with the companies involved, other than platitudes offered to the media.
The report found that more than 63% of app-based workers killed in the past five years were people of color, even though they make up less than 40% of the U.S. workforce.
The numbers in the report are consistent with limited self-reporting by individual platforms. In a 2021 Community Safety Report, Lyft reported 10 fatal attacks on drivers from 2017 to 2019. In 2019, Uber reported 19 fatal attacks in the previous two years.
Cherri Murphy, one of the report’s authors and former Lyft driver, said in an interview with The edge that she was motivated to research gig worker deaths on the job by her own lived experience, which included driving during the height of the pandemic with no worker compensation or unemployment benefits available to her. Lyft, Uber, DoorDash and other work-on-demand companies consider freelance drivers ineligible for most benefits.
“No deaths should occur because companies don’t protect their workers,” Murphy said. She was dismayed to find that many drivers killed on the job had to turn to GoFundMe, like Lewis’s family, to cover funeral expenses. “Why is there no support, no call from their employer? »
Prior to Wednesday’s report, there were already numerous reports of ride-sharing companies failing to help families after a loved one was killed on the job; in January, the family of Ahmad Fawad Yusufi, a refugee from Afghanistan, said Uber had tried to avoid responsibility for his death in a failed robbery attempt last year.
Female drivers are particularly susceptible to workplace safety issues; a Edge A report earlier this year found that women who drive for ride-sharing companies feel unprotected by the companies they drive for. More than two dozen female drivers interviewed described incidents with passengers exposing themselves, making sexual advances or otherwise threatening them.
In its first-ever safety report released in 2021, Lyft reported 4,000 sexual assault claims between 2017 and 2019. A similar safety report from Uber in 2019 — its most recent — found more than 3,000 sexual assault claims. between 2017 and 2018. About half of the complaints came from drivers.
As part of a day of action on Wednesday, driver groups are planning protests in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego and outside the home of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in the San Francisco area. Francisco. The groups are calling for changes to how app-based companies treat workers, including compensation for workers injured or killed on the job, and an end to forced arbitration that forces workers to agree to settlements at the workplace. amicably in the event of a dispute. contestation. They want lawmakers to force companies to make data on workplace injuries and fatalities public. Also on their wish list: the right for workers to organize into unions.
For her part, Allyssa Lewis said she would like to see more passenger screening for ride-sharing companies; the man who authorities say killed his sister had no criminal record but was under FBI investigation at the time of the shooting. “You always hear about drivers, how they control them to protect passenger safety, but what about driver safety? These companies should also think about ensuring their security.