On Sunday afternoon, August 2021, Isabella Lewis, a lifted driver, was shot in the head by a passenger she had just picked up and left to die as the man ran off in what appeared to be a fatal car crash.
Lyft issued a statement to reporters at the time, saying it was “heartbreaking” – but Allyssa Lewis, Isabella’s sister, said her family had never received direct communication from the company, nor any financial compensation.
Instead, days after the murder, Lyft sent an insurance agent to Isabella’s abandoned vehicle before the family could pick up her belongings, Allyssa said.
“There is nothing that could bring my sister back, but it would have meant a lot to just be able to get Lyft to admit that she died while working for them,” said Allyssa.
Isabella was one of at least 50 American concerts killed at work since 2017, according to a new study from the spokesperson Gig Workers Rising. The group found that dozens of employees for companies such as Lyft, Uber and Postmates had been fatally attacked at work – six of them in the first two months of 2022. The report accuses the companies of not doing enough to alleviate the “urgent security crisis”. “, Or assist the families of victims of physical assault.
“This is a systematic and pathological practice where these companies – which do not do enough to protect their employees – try to protect their profits by passing on risks to them,” said Cherri Murphy, co-author of the report.
Victims were identified by public sources, including news reports, police documents, legal documents and GoFundMe fundraising campaigns, the organization said. Most concert companies do not publicly share information on the number of deaths, which means that the numbers were probably “much higher” than what was recorded in the report, she added.
Of the more than 50 workers killed, 63% were colored workers, according to the study, although they make up less than 39% of the total U.S. workforce. Although most concert companies do not publish figures on the diversity of their employees, independent surveys indicate that more than 78% of employees at concerts are people of color.
Other studies echo these findings: a recent report by the Pew Research Center showed that colored employees at concerts are more likely than whites to say that they have at least occasionally felt insecure or sexually harassed at work.
Murphy herself previously drove for Lyft and completed more than 12,000 trips before she was disappointed with the lack of support from the company and the financial instability of the job. She said in most cases that employees’ families do not receive compensation for deaths that occur while working on the programs.
This was the case with Allyssa, who said that the grief she felt over her sister’s death was added to Lift’s reaction.
“Having someone work for your company to give her life while she’s at work, and her family can not even get a pat on the back, or any personal outreach,” Allyssa said. “It makes her feel like she does not matter.
Lyft spokeswoman Gabriela Condarco-Quesada said the company was “committed to doing everything we can to protect drivers from crime” and had invested in safety technology, policies and cooperation.
“From day one, we have built safety into every part of the Lift experience,” she said. Lyft is in collaboration with the safety company ADT, which enables drivers to connect with professionals if they feel unsafe. The lift also monitors preventive driving and reaches drivers if an irregularity is noticed to connect them to emergency services.
Condarco-Quesada said Lyft had tried to contact Isabella Lewis’ family the day she heard about the incident to offer support. “Unfortunately we could not contact them,” she said.
But Veena Dubal, a professor of labor law at the University of California, Hastings, said answers like those received by the Lewis family were a local business model for gig-economy companies, which for years have struggled to classify workers as self-employed rather than employees. entitled to benefits.
“These companies do not follow the rules of best practice because they would make them look like a real employer,” she said.
Dubal pointed out that while traditional driving activities such as taxi driving have always carried risks, such risks were exacerbated by algorithms and expectations for driving programs.
“These platforms are designed to punish drivers for not picking up passengers,” she said. “This means that you are constantly worried about grades and are encouraged not to trust your gut feeling if it tells you to quit or cancel a trip.
Gig companies have previously acknowledged the problem of violent attacks on their employees. Uber moved to keep drivers safer in 2016 after 16 drivers were killed in Brazil.
But employees and officials have encouraged companies to do more. Gig Workers Rising made a number of demands, including claiming workers ‘compensation for injuries and deaths in the workplace and workers’ rights to trade unions.
The group called for an end to forced arbitration, which requires staff to resolve these issues out of court and away from public scrutiny. Such demands have grown in popularity as politicians increasingly take up business enterprises.
It also encouraged companies to increase transparency about the number of injuries and deaths each year.
Condarco-Quesada, a spokesman for Lyft, said the company had released data in its annual community safety report, which includes data on fatalities that occur on the platform.
Uber, which owns Postmates, publishes a similar report but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Every employee deserves to feel safe in their workplace,” Massachusetts lawmaker Ayanna Pressley said in a statement. “We must stand with workers and demand that these companies take responsibility and pay living expenses, provide good conditions and, crucially, ensure workplace protection that effectively and equitably protects workers from violence.
In response to the publication of the study on Wednesday, employees in five cities in the United States are holding a national holiday for those who get lost in work, including sending a caravan to the San Francisco home of Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
“The lack of care for these employees is a direct result of a business model set up to milk as much as possible for management,” Murphy said. “No one should be killed when they come to work.