Fund for Disabled Taxi Drivers Hits Legal Setback

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 02:00 PM

One way to save money in New York: cutting out cabs. It's a good chance get to know your subway system or ride a bike! (Kim Olson Photography/flickr)

A disability fund for taxi workers has an uncertain future after a judge’s ruling Friday.

Every time a rider pays with a credit card, six cents was dedicated to the fund, pennies that have added up to $1.4 million since October. But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Margaret A. Chan found that the Taxi and Limousine Commission lacks the authority to deduct the money, and struck down the fee. 

The fund was intended both to provide short-term benefits to disabled drivers, and to help all drivers sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Taxi workers are independent contractors, and do not have access to employer-provided benefits. The Taxi Workers Alliance was awarded a contract to administer the fund in September.

“If TLC were concerned about a taxi driver’s health affecting the driver and the public at large, it might better serve both if the drivers were to go for an annual health check-up, rather than deduct six cents from every fare to help drivers with choosing an insurance in the hopes that they will seek medical care,” Chan wrote in her ruling. She found that the so-called “Fare Reduction Rules” are “arbitrary and capricious, and without a rational basis.”

“I don’t understand how telling drivers to get an annual checkup keeps drivers whole,” said Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance. The nature of taxi work creates unique, on-going healthcare problems, Desai said. Kidney failure is common among drivers, for example, because they lack access to bathrooms. Drivers who miss work for dialysis or to recover from injuries have no financial support, she noted. 

The night before the ruling, Desai said she talked to seven drivers who all need temporary disability aid.

“What do we tell people? ‘Okay, you gave 15 years of your life, 10 years of your life, five years of your life to this grueling job? Well, too bad,’” she said. “It’s just really devastating, and really shocking.”

The Taxi Workers Alliance is urging the city to appeal.

 “While we have only just received and are in the process of reviewing this decision, we want to reiterate our ongoing commitment to protecting the health and well being of New York City’s dedicated taxi drivers,” TLC spokesman Allan Fromberg said in a statement Friday. The city’s Law Department is also reviewing the ruling.

Chan did not award monetary damages to drivers, leaving in limbo the $1.4 million collected so far.

Read Chan's ruling in full below. 

Friendly Group Ltd. vs. City of New York


Comments [2]

Munmun Islam from USA

Hi – It’s good to read such interesting stuff on the Internet as I have been able to discover here. I agree with much of what is written here and I’ll be coming back to this website again.
Thanks again for posting such great reading material!! To get new information visit here
taxi service
taxi to airport
taxi from airport

Apr. 26 2014 08:54 AM
Eugene Weixel from Harlem

This is a most uninformed article. For a simple start the six cents is taken from every fare, even unpaid ones.
I think the future of this scam is mot uncertain at all. It is dead.

Thank you Justice Chan in the name of 40,000 taxi drivers who are often talked about but seldom heard.

Bhairavi Desai put her trust in Michael Bloomberg and David Yassky all for an empty promisr of taxi swag. She does not represent us . She tried to rob us.


Apr. 15 2014 10:31 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.