United States District Court, E.D. New York
LEVON ALEKSANIAN, JAKIR HOSSAIN, and NEW YORK TAXI WORKERS ALLIANCE, Plaintiffs,
ANDREW CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, and ROBERTA REARDON, as COMMISSIONER OF LABOR, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Levon Aleksanian, Jakir Hossain and the New York Taxi Workers
Alliance (“NYTWA, ” together, the
“Plaintiffs”), bring claims against New York
State Governor Andrew Cuomo, the New York State Department of
Labor (“DOL”), and Roberta Reardon as New York
State Commissioner of Labor (together, the
“Defendants”). Plaintiffs seek declaratory relief
from Defendants' alleged violations of Title III of the
Social Security Act of 1935, 42 U.S.C. §§ 501-504
and 20 C.F.R. § 640.3(a), and the Equal Protection and
Due Process clauses of the United States Constitution. Before
the Court is Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint,
which for the reasons indicated herein, is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs have also moved for an extension of time to serve
Defendant Cuomo. That motion is DENIED as both futile and
and Legal Framework
Aleksanian and Hossain (the “Individual
Plaintiffs”), are both former drivers for Uber
Technologies Inc. (“Uber”) in New York City who
purport to bring this case on behalf of themselves and other
former Uber drivers. ECF 1, Complaint
(“Complt.”), at ¶¶ 1, 24. They are both
members of the NYTWA, a non-profit membership organization
with 19, 000 members, including 5, 000 Uber drivers, that
“works to ensure the fair treatment of its member
drivers and to promote the dignity of all workers in the
taxi, limousine, and black car industries in New York.”
Id. at ¶¶ 10, 75-76.
invoke Title III of the Social Security Act of 1935, pursuant
to which the federal government provides payments to the
states to finance the administration of their unemployment
compensation laws. 42 U.S.C. §§ 501-504. In what is
commonly referred to as the “when due” clause,
that law requires that states receiving funding enact laws
such methods of administration . . . as are found . . . to be
reasonably calculated to insure full payment of unemployment
compensation when due . . .
42 U.S.C. § 503(a)(1); see also 20 C.F.R.
§ 640.3(a) (state laws must provide for “such
methods of administration as will reasonably insure the full
payment of unemployment benefits to eligible claimant with
the greatest promptness that is administratively
York, the DOL relies on the wages reported to the State by
employers to make an initial determination of whether a
claimant is monetarily eligible for unemployment insurance.
Complt. at ¶¶ 2, 19. Claimants must earn a
statutory minimum threshold in wages during their previous
employment to be monetarily eligible. Id. at ¶
17. A claimant who believes his wages were misclassified or
improperly reported as earnings of an independent contractor
(earnings which are not monetarily eligible for
unemployment insurance) may provide additional documentation
to the DOL for reconsideration. Id. at ¶ 19.
The DOL investigates that claim to determine whether the
income was actually earned as an employee, and issues a
revised determination of monetary eligibility. Id.
at ¶ 19. The DOL says that it generally takes three
to six weeks for a claimant to receive his first payment, but
that “Independent contractor/off-the-books payment
issues can take more than six weeks to resolve.”
Id. at ¶ 22; see also New York State
Department of Labor, Unemployment Insurance Handbook, at p.
45. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants violated the
“when due” clause by refusing to adjudicate
workers compensation claims filed by the Individual
Plaintiffs and other former Uber drivers.
worked as an Uber driver from August 2014 through September
2015. Id. at ¶ 41. On September 9, 2015, his
employment with Uber was terminated. Id. at
¶¶ 47-48. Aleksanian applied for unemployment
benefits on September 14, 2015. Id. at ¶ 49.
Two weeks later, the DOL issued a determination that he had
not made sufficient wages to be eligible for unemployment
benefits. Id. at ¶ 50. The DOL had not counted
the wages he earned from Uber, because Uber considers its
drivers to be independent contractors, not employees.
Id. at ¶ 27. Aleksanian submitted proof of his
Uber earnings to the DOL. Id. at ¶ 50. On
February 9, 2016, Aleksanian contacted the DOL to inquire
about his claim. The DOL said it was still investigating, and
that “[a]ll Uber claims we have are under executive
review.” Id at ¶¶ 56-58.
worked as an Uber driver from January 2016 to April 2016.
Id. at ¶ 63. On April 25, 2016, his employment
with Uber was terminated. Id. at ¶ 67. Hossain
applied for unemployment compensation on May 2, 2016.
Id. at ¶ 68. On May 12, 2016, the DOL issued a
determination that he did not make enough wages during the
relevant time period to establish entitlement to unemployment
benefits. Id. at ¶ 69. As with Aleksanian, the
DOL had not considered Hossain's wages from Uber, so he
submitted proof of those earnings to the DOL. Id. at
of this Lawsuit ...