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Drivers for ride-hailing car services such as Uber and Lyft should be considered freelance workers rather than employees, according to the chief regulator of New York City’s taxis.

“We have wholeheartedly supported driver flexibility as independent contractors when we allow them, much to the consternation of the industry, to drive for several bases,” said Meera Joshi, chairwoman of the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission in a Tuesday interview on Bloomberg Television.

Joshi said her agency disagrees with a California Labor Commission ruling last month that ordered Uber to reimburse a driver for more than $4,000 in expenses incurred over eight weeks. Uber has argued that drivers merely connect with passengers through mobile-device applications designed by the company, rather than working for it directly.

Uber Technologies Inc., founded five years ago in San Francisco, has grown to serve 300 cities worldwide, stirring conflict with traditional taxi and car-for-hire businesses in California, New York and Paris. It has asserted its value at $50 billion.

New York allows drivers to be linked with several companies simultaneously “so a driver is not an Uber driver,” Joshi said. “That’s a flexibility the driver is entitled to. They don’t have the security of employment; they don’t have the security of guaranteed income.”

In the event a court ruled that such drivers are employees, “then our position would change,” Joshi said. “If the decision is they are employees and they are entitled to all those rights that employees are entitled to, we would definitely be vigilant in making sure they get those.”

This article was written by Henry Goldman from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Tags: labor, lyft, uber
Photo Credit: The Lyft app in New York City. Skift