Over 50 gig workers killed on the job : NPR

Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her kitchen in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

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Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her kitchen in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish for NPR

Again in August, Allyssa Lewis was on the cellphone catching up together with her older sister, Bella, chatting about assembly up later within the day.

“I used to be like, ‘hey, it is the weekend, are you able to do my hair?’ She was like, properly, I’ll do Lyft as we speak, so relying on how I really feel after that, I will let you understand,'” mentioned Lewis, 23, who lives within the Dallas, Tex. space.

However not lengthy after, Lewis obtained a name from a buddy informing her that one thing dangerous had occurred. She wanted to satisfy household and family members straight away. She arrived in a panic and was met with an unsettling scene: police autos surrounding her sister’s physique.

A random passenger had shot and killed Bella Lewis. She was 26.

“She was only a loving variety soul, type of lit up the room with a smile. That type of particular person,” Allyssa Lewis mentioned. “Did not notice how a lot she type of held our household collectively till shedding her.”

Allyssa Lewis outdoors her dwelling in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

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Allyssa Lewis outdoors her dwelling in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

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Lewis was one among greater than 50 gig staff killed whereas driving for firms like Lyft, Uber and DoorDash since 2017, in accordance with a new report from the advocacy group Gig Staff Rising.

And whereas it’s exhausting to know what firms might have achieved to forestall the deaths, the employee advocates say there was an absence of help within the aftermath of the killings.

No dying compensation and no proper to sue

In contrast to common staff, gig staff’ households don’t obtain compensation, like survivor advantages, even when they’ve been killed whereas on the job.

Catherine Fisk, an skilled on labor legislation on the College of California, Berkeley, factors out that gig staff households additionally can not entry the courtroom system to file one thing like a wrongful dying lawsuit.

Firms like Lyft make drivers signal what is called compelled arbitration agreements, which means they can not sue if drivers get injured or one thing goes incorrect whereas working.

“The businesses have structured their relationships so they are not liable for the accidents their drivers expertise over the course of employment,” Fisk mentioned.

So though Bella Lewis died whereas doing her job, her household paid for all the things — from the funeral to burial payments.

“They weren’t going to pay for something,” her sister Allyssa Lewis mentioned. “The drivers’ window someway was shot out. They weren’t repairing that.”

Household photographs of Allyssa Lewis’ household and her sisters ashes in her lounge in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

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Household photographs of Allyssa Lewis’ household and her sisters ashes in her lounge in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish for NPR

Lyft despatched its insurance coverage firm, Liberty Mutual, to see if it might present any compensation, each Lewis and Lyft verify. Nevertheless, it did not pay for something, together with clear the blood from the automotive wherein she was killed. That is as a result of it amounted to less than the $2,500 deductible drivers pay out of pocket earlier than the corporate’s insurance coverage coverage kicks in.

In a press release, Lyft mentioned it tries to verify all of its drivers are protected always and have entry to in-app instruments that they will use in the event that they really feel in danger.

Allyssa Lewis Memorial of her sister in her room in Richardson, Texas on April 4th, 2022.

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Allyssa Lewis Memorial of her sister in her room in Richardson, Texas on April 4th, 2022.

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Lyft didn’t reply to questions on why it didn’t assist the Lewis household cowl their funeral bills.

A Lyft spokesperson mentioned the corporate tried to contact the Lewis household after the dying however was not in a position to, but Allyssa Lewis says she by no means heard from the corporate.

“So I believe the least they might’ve did was come out of pocket for funeral bills, kinda preserve that burden off the household,” she mentioned. “My household is not vital a household that comes from cash,” she mentioned. “My sister out right here doing Lyft to get that more money.”

Simply how harmful is gig work?

Whereas some data suggests gig staff are extra at-risk of deadly accidents on the job than different sorts of staff, it’s troublesome to know precisely how harmful being a gig employee is, partially as a result of the businesses don’t publicly disclose the figures recurrently.

Lyft and Uber do publish security studies that reveal how many sexual assaults and different sorts of violence, together with murders, happen over the course of a ride-hailing journey, however employee advocates say the studies needs to be extra frequent and higher detailed.

If conventional taxi driving is any information, inviting strangers right into a car does result in hurt.

Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her lounge in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

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Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her lounge in Richardson, Texas, on April 4, 2022.

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Driving a cab is among the most dangerous jobs within the nation in terms of probability of office murder, in accordance with federal statistics. Taxi drivers are behind solely retail gross sales staff, cashiers and cops in terms of probability of being murdered whereas working. Most taxi drivers, nonetheless, are staff who get pleasure from employer-provided compensation within the occasion of a office harm or dying.

Federal statistics show that there have been 21 taxi driver deaths in 2020. However that quantity contains site visitors accidents. The gig employee report — which relied on information studies and GoFundMe campaigns — solely targeted on drivers killed by passengers or passers-by.

In the meantime, Allyssa Lewis mentioned she was just lately contemplating doing gig work to earn some additional revenue. However then her mother intervened.

“I mentioned, ‘Yeah, I am occupied with doing DoorDash as we speak,'” she mentioned. “And he or she mentioned, ‘no I do not actually really feel snug with you doing that. I do not need you doing that. I might reasonably provide you with cash out of my pocket earlier than you try this.'”

Lewis determined she was going to heed her mom’s want.

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