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Legally protect yourself and your business, with Bryant Greenling of LegalRideshare.com

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Bryant Greenling, founder of LegalRideshare.com, joins us this week to talk about the ways we can protect ourselves and our businesses as independent contractors. LegalRideshare was the first law firm to work exclusively with rideshare and gig economy contractors.

LegalRideshare specializes in injury and accident claims for independent contractors. They also have partnered with Kover.AI to legal deactivation letters for Kover subscribers requesting that deactivations be reversed. In the interview, Bryant spoke highly of the services Kover was providing.

Below is the transcript of the interview. You can also click the player to listen to the episode.

Bryant Greenling from LegalRideshare.com joins us on today's podcast episode to talk about legal protection for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats Contractors.
Bryant Greenling from LegalRideshare.com joins us on today's podcast episode to talk about legal protection for Grubhub, Doordash, Uber Eats Contractors.

EntreCourier

Well, Courier Nation, I'm excited to have a special guest with us today. We've got Bryant Greening, who is one of the count co founders of LegalRideshare. And LegalRideshare is the only law firm right now operating that is working exclusively with ride share and gig economy related injury claims, different work like that.

And so, because they're working exclusively with gig economy workers, there are just a lot of areas where he's got some great insights for us today about protecting yourself as a courier, as an independent contractor, protecting yourself in injury situations, and even some areas outside of the injury area. Brian's been practicing law for nearly a decade, and about six years ago started focusing so much on the gig economy side of things. And so he's kind of established himself as one of the experts in law related to some of the work that we do. So Brian, thank you so much for coming on.

Bryant

Thanks for having me. It's really a pleasure to be here.

EntreCourier

Yeah, really appreciate you coming on. And, Brian, tell us a little bit. How did you decide that gig economy made sense for you? What got you interested in this side of things?

Bryant

Sure. It's a pretty interesting story, actually. So I graduated law school almost a decade ago now. And I started in personal injury law, which meant car accidents, slips and falls, things like that. I'm based in Chicago.

And, you know, about five, six years ago, I noticed these pink mustaches starting to appear on the front of cars. And that was the beginning stages of Lyft. I started to pay a little bit more attention to it and kind of watch the industry grow around me.

And as a personal injury attorney, I started to get more calls from drivers who were identifying themselves as Lyft drivers, and eventually Uber drivers, who had been involved in accidents and didn't totally understand how the insurance claims worked, or how to get their vehicles repaired. Or if they were entitled to lost wages after an accident, questions along those lines. And the truth of the matter was, I didn't know the answers because I didn't know how those insurance policies were written and how that might differ from an ordinary accident or injury claim.

So as more of those cases started to come across my desk, I realized that there's a real void of information and a real void of expertise for people who find themselves in that kind of trouble. So I actually started a Twitter handle called LegalRideshare, which was meant to be a feed for drivers to ask questions, get answers, as I developed more knowledge in that world, that it got so busy, that we were eventually able to open up a brick and mortar with just a focus on rideshare related work. And now we're, we're full on gig economy, in service those drivers, shoppers, you name it. We're able to provide expertise and consultation, if you find yourself in a tough situation.

EntreCourier

And it is kind of a tricky area, either between insurance and how insurance works. On the rideshare side is one thing and delivery is kind of a different area all together. And I think a lot of people when they go into these contracts, what's your experience with that? Because what I'm noticing is a lot of people don't seem to understand that they're not employees now, and that they that they are independent contractors that they are running their own business, they are on their own, on a lot of things. Has that been your experience as far as noticing that with drivers as far as their understanding? Or what's that been like?

Bryant

You know most drivers tend to understand the concept that they're an independent contractor versus an employee but a lot of people don't fully understand what that means. You know, they get, “I'm not getting a paycheck from Uber every month where they're deducting my taxes and covering me for health insurance and paid days” off and things like that.

But it's much bigger than that. Your website actually says it the best You are the boss. You are running your own business on a day to day basis and you're in charge for making sure that you keep that business in order. So that means keeping track of expenses. It means protecting yourself with the right insurance. In the law we call it CYA, cover your, you can fill in the blank.

And the reason for that is because whatever happens in your day to day with your business is ultimately going to affect your livelihood, your ability to keep working and keep putting food on the table. So independent contractor truly means independent, and that that's important for drivers to realize as they go through their daily operation.

EntreCourier

Yeah, it really is, I think, the more that people I think, can understand… actually, I'm starting, we had a group do a trial run on a course calling it Courier MBA, which is master your business attitude. Really just trying to kind of drill down to this idea that, hey, we are running a business here. And that does mean you're on your own. I think that does leave some disadvantages, but I think it leaves some rights and some benefits to doing that as well. And it's learning how to understand both of those things and treat it like a business.

Bryant

That's right. So yeah, I mean, there's there's all sorts of ways that you can use the independent contractor label to your benefit, which would, you know, consider tracking expenses, like the fact that you can deduct gas and wear and tear in your car, you can bring that income, at least in terms of how the government's concerned way down, and that may keep more money in your pocket. And those opportunities might not be available to an employee in the same way.

EntreCourier

Yeah, especially with the last tax changes there. There were a lot of employee deductions that kind of went away. And so we do have some some definite benefits there. Talk to us a little bit about, especially, your area of expertise, and that's with injury and and what are some of the things that somebody can do if they find themselves in a situation where they've been hurt? And where do you go from there?

Bryant

Well, with any traumatic experience or situation, a lot of it starts from preparation before that event happens. So you want to make sure that you have taken proactive steps to ensure that if the accident occurs, and frankly, in our line of work, when you know, when you're driving, you know, thirty, fifty, sixtyhours a week, it's really when that accident occurs, that you've adequately protected yourself. That means having the right insurance, telling your personal insurer that you do drive for a gig company and you are engaged in commercial work and making sure that you've got gap insurance so that if the accident happens when period one when you're cruising around waiting for a fare, that you can get that car fixed, and that you can cash in on, bodily injury coverage that if it's a hit and run situation, or you can think of a variety of scenarios where you need to have taken out the right insurance ahead of time.

The second thing that you can do before that accident is put in a dashcam. You want to be able to document what has happened on that day, inside and outside the car. We've had cases that have totally turned on what dashcam footage has shown where an insurance company initially denied a claim saying that our driver was responsible, we were able to pull out that footage and show the exact opposite, no, their insured was responsible, and therefore we could put money in our clients pocket.

When we talk about accidents and injuries, evidence is the key. And that means documenting what happens at the accident scene, taking photos of property damage and locations of vehicles calling the police to make an accident report taking down witness information. So a lot of drivers at the scene of an event, don't think to turn around and ask their passenger for their name and phone number. Well, that's invaluable because that that information is not easy to come by from the rideshare companies but you have access to it right there. And that's a witness to your event it can make or break your case down the road. So when we talk about what to do in an accident, it's gather evidence and that that starts even before the accident occurs and had the accident see.

EntreCourier

Okay, let's talk a little bit about what you mentioned about insurance, and it's there's there's a lot of difference between how insurance works with rideshare and how it works with delivery companies because the insurance that's provided by the rideshare is a lot different, isn't it?

Bryant

So the rideshare companies offer pretty good insurance most of the time, but what a lot of drivers don't appreciate is that they're the rideshare companies, insurance only covers you during part of your trips. So for instance, if we're talking about, say, Uber and Lyft, when you're in that period one, where you're cruising around waiting for a fare, you actually have very minimal coverage. A lot of times they they don't provide liability, I'm sorry, I misspoke. They don't provide collision coverage, which means that your car is not really protected during that period one, if somebody hits you and leaves the scene, Uber and Lyft are going to deny that claim when you go to them and say, I need my vehicle repaired. So you need to have proactively taking out insurance through your own carrier that provides coverage during that period, one that provides gap coverage in case Uber and Lyft deny the claim.

Also, during period one, your level of liability insurance is limited. Whereas when you're on the way to pick up a fair when you have a fair in the car, you've got a million dollars in most states of coverage in period one, it's oftentimes state minimum. So if you cause an accident, and really hurt somebody, you know, God forbid, big orthopedic injuries or even worse fatality, you want to make sure that you've taken out sufficient coverage to protect you and your family, because the rideshare insurance may not.

A lot of drivers get behind the wheel and they think Well, I've got the the app on I'm good. That's not really the case.

EntreCourier

Right? Yeah, it's actually the time that you've got the app on and you don't have anything going on that you're really the most vulnerable.

Bryant

That's right. Period one is where almost all the bad things happen. So when you don't have a fare that you're connected to or a fare in your car, you could find yourself in a really bad situation if you haven't taken out the right private policy before you got in the car.

EntreCourier

Yeah. And really, I think, and on my side of things, where most of my most most of my audience's is really more into delivery. We don't even have, I mean, I think it gets even a little more complicated. Maybe it's less complicated, just he's just not insured.

Bryant

Right, that's true.

EntreCourier

Because we you're you don't have that insurance policy from Doordash, or Grubhub, or Postmates. Uber Eats is maybe the one exception, because some of that rideshare policy seems to transfer over.

What have you experienced as you've talked with delivery drivers and and the difference that has to do with that?

Bryant

But you're right that as a delivery worker, there's a lot bigger gaps, there's there are many more bigger gaps. And that means there's more time in which you are less covered.

We really encourage drivers to speak with their private insurance, their personal insurer, and make sure that they have every gap covered. And what that means is go into your state farm or to your Allstate or your progressive or wherever we don't recommend a single company, find the one that fits best for you and tell them I am engaged in work for these particular companies, I drive for Uber Eats, I drive for Postmates, I drive for Grubhub. Give me the policy that fills all of those gaps, so that when an event does happen, when you're driving, you know that you're covered, even if you know Postmates covers it partially as like the primary insurance policy, and then you have to go to your personal insurances secondary coverage, or vice versa. There's a million different scenarios that can arise. And as long as you filled the gaps, then you're safe.

Specific to your question, the delivery companies are eager to look for ways to avoid liability and minimize their liability. So sometimes, the accident and the coverage can can really shift on one minute. You know, did the accident occur at 959 or 10 o'clock? Because whether you're on your way to pick up the food or have the food in your car, it can be a difference of one minute, and there's different insurance that applies, depending on which stage you're in.

EntreCourier

Yes, yes. And and I think on top of that, what a lot of people, I hear a lot of people that kind of say Well, yeah, but these companies do have insurance, when it's not really even auto insurance, it's more of a liability umbrella for them. And so it doesn't cover us and it does provide some liability for damage that you cause. But have you found that to be kind of a challenge, I guess, to get them to follow through on that, because of that type of that change that difference in type of insurance or, or am I mistaken in the way I put that?

Bryant

No, it's there.If a driver causes an accident, that's where they find themselves in between a rock and a hard place. So if you get hit by another car, the first thing that we're going to do is we're going to go after that other drivers insurance to try to cover your damage. And, you know, eight times out of 10, there's going to be insurance there that allows you to recover. And we don't really have to worry about what Doordash or Postmates or the company says. But in the situation where you get hit by an uninsured driver, or you cause the accident, we found that all of these rideshare companies, or all these delivery companies, I should say, are taking hard stances and looking for ways in which their coverage doesn't apply.

And many times they're saying no, the personal insurance for the driver is primary, meaning we're going to go to your insurance first. And if if you have the necessary coverage, then it's going to be a much easier claim. And if you don't, then we're going to find ourselves fighting and sometimes it gets covered, and sometimes it doesn't.

So time is money in this world. And if we can have a clean path to recovery, get you back on the road sooner than later, that's a better outcome. As opposed to, you know, you call in my office and I saying we're gonna need months to convince Postmates to pick this up. Because, you know, they're challenging the time in which you were on the clock or the the period in which you were in.

And, you know, I do believe that we have, we do have strong outcome. But I want to get this done fast for you. I don't want you sitting on the sidelines, not able to work while this is all being sorted out, because you didn't take out the right insurance to begin with.

EntreCourier

Right? Yeah. Have they ever used that? That? You know, because you do have to you really… I think most people don't realize, especially on the delivery side that most delivery policies specifically say, or I'm sorry, most most personal policies specifically say you were not covered while you're on a delivery. Or, you know, commercial purposes, livery is a term I think is used quite a bit. Does that fact that you've got that kind of policy, sometimes give them an out as far as what you didn't have the right kind of insurance? And so that gives them an excuse to say, well, you're supposed to have the right kind, you didn't have it, so we're not responsible?

Bryant

Well, what the companies require is that you have a valid insurance policy covering your car and covering your operation with the car, they don't require that you have ride share or courier specific insurance. So what we found is that there's times in which all the insurance companies play kind of hot potato with the claim, and they say, it's not us, it's them, it's not us it's them. They keep passing the buck, while the driver sitting there trying to just get their car fixed.

So the best thing that you can do is take out the right insurance to begin with. Because then we know your personal insurance provides coverage in the moment that that the courier company says, “we're not going to pick up the claim,” we can go right to your insurance and say, Look, we got a denial, let's have this, let's take this care of and then you guys can work it out on the back end insurance companies.

EntreCourier

And they can be the ones to spend the time fighting.

Bryant

Right. That's exactly they'll they'll take it to arbitration. It'll be State Farm versus Allstate, or you know, whatever. And instead of driver versus insurance company, you want to get out of that claim as quickly as you can, because that means your car's fixed, and you're back on the road.

Entrecourier

Right, absolutely. I hear this sometimes from couriers that will say, well, just don't tell anybody that you were doing deliveries, and then they should cover you. Have you heard that happen or have you heard that said much? And how would you respond to that as far as like your personal insurance? If they don't know that you're on delivery? Can they find out?

Bryant

We hear that all the time. And the truth of the matter is if the insurance company doesn't find out, then it's probably going to be a seamless process. I mean, that's just the bottom line. But the right answer, the legal answer is you should be upfront with your insurance company because if they find out you're going to be at a whole lot of trouble. If they find out they might be coming back to you, seeking the money that they paid to fix your car. They might be canceling your policy and that would be a red flag for future insurance down the road. They might file a lawsuit against the company that should have paid the damage, the one that covers the courier company. And then all of a sudden, you're caught up in litigation.

So it's one of those situations where the easy path, you know, telling a lie or staying home, be the quickest path to resolving the case for you. But it might open up a whole can of worms that I wouldn't want to partake in. If I were the delivery driver, I would be looking for the right outcome to resolve the case. So that it's resolved now, and I don't have to worry about it a year from now.

EntreCourier

Yeah, So bottom line is just make sure you get the right insurance in the first place.

Bryant

Yeah, it's, the truth will set you free. And you just you want to have protected yourself, protected your business, YOUR business, protect it from the beginning.

EntreCourier

Have you noticed any particular companies that tend to be better at insuring, especially delivery based careers?

Bryant

In terms of insurance companies, you can find solid coverage with any reputable company. So, you know, we find a lot of drivers on the delivery and the rideshare front and look for cheap insurance. And you essentially, you could buy it out of the guy's trunk in a parking lot. That's not going to be adequate, adequate for what you're doing. But if you go to the big guys, the you know, the Allstates, the State Farms Progressive, they're all going to sell insurance that covers commercial work. The key is finding the policy that works best for you.

What we found is that different drivers get different quotes from the same company. So you could go to one company and get a rate that's, that's much higher than your neighbor. And that just depends on your driving history. You know, your work history, your demographics in terms of your age. You know, there's all sorts of factors. So I would say shopp around, go to the big companies, find a policy that fully covers you, and then pay the least amount that you can because you've done your homework and you've done your shopping.

EntreCourier

Sure, sure, that's good advice. Let me ask you this. Have you run into any kind of differences between, I guess what you would call the rideshare coverage and finding that those do not cover delivery, because the rideshare coverage is kind of depending on that is contingent on the gig company having insurance, it's more like what Uber and Lyft have.

Bryant:

You know, most of the time, commercial work is covered by the policy. So the fact that you're, you're going in to the insurance company, and you're saying I am taking out money, or I'm taking out a policy to earn money with my vehicle is helpful. And I have not come into a situation where they've parsed it that finely and said we are not going to cover this because it was say Doordash instead of Uber.

EntreCourier

Okay. All right. Yeah, I just wondered on that one. I've always kind of wondered cuz sometimes, actually, I went through a process, gosh, about six months ago, looking for changing insurance. I noticed a couple places that say, Okay, we've got rideshare, but when I would drill down and say, does that cover delivery for this company or that company? “Oh, no, I guess it doesn't.” And so that's what I wonder if you ran into it on your end, whether that became an issue?

Bryant

Yeah, it's certainly worth it to ask the question when you're doing that initial shopping. Because I do think that different companies are going to give different policies and write them in specific ways. So you don't want to find yourself thinking you had the right insurance when you did. So. As I said, a few minutes ago, it's all about being honest, from the get go. Tell them exactly what you're planning on doing with your car. So many drivers think that it's important to hide the ball and say, you know, I don't want to spend too much a month on my insurance so I'm going to withhold certain information. That doesn't benefit you, you know, when, at the end of the day, your car is your livelihood, you need to protect your assets because the moment that that car goes off the road, that means the bills don't get paid. So, you know, if you're asking me, do I want to save $10 a month in live in fear every day, or put another $10 a month, even 15 $20 a month towards my business? I got to spend the extra money because I got to know that I have the ability to make money for my family.

EntreCourier

I think that's a good point. Really good point. So a couple things that I pick up from you so far. You know, one is make sure you're protected to begin with. Another is find ways to document as much as you can. Dashcam: Sounds like you would very highly recommend that to protect yourself?

Bryant

Absolutely, it's the dash cam is the most important thing that you can purchase it with the exception of the right insurance. So it's right insurance and then dash cam are 1 and 1a.

EntreCourier

And those things are not that expensive. I mean, you know, a good one's what, maybe about 100 to $150. And my gosh, what a difference that is between paying thousands of dollars out of your pocket.

Bryant

Right, it's a one time expense. And we talked before about writing things off, that is an expense of your business. So buy a dash cam, set it up. Never think about it again. And you know if that means that you do five more deliveries in a week to pay for it, it's worth it. You know, set that money aside and have that insurance hanging on your rearview mirror.

EntreCourier

Yeah, I think that's that's great advice there. What are the kinds of things would you recommend that people could do just to kind of make sure that they're protected, so that they're more likely to be able to have a positive outcome if anything bad happens?

Bryant

So when we at our practice, we deal specifically with injury claims. And then the biggest mistake that we see is, we call it the hero complex. And it's, somebody gets in an accident, and they think to themselves, I'm fine, I don't need medical attention, I'm just going to start going again. And then they find themselves a week later, where those pains haven't gone away. And they're actually getting worse. And they haven't taken the necessary steps to ensure that they have the strongest insurance claim that they can.

If you're in an accident, we recommend go get a checkup, you don't have to go to the ER and get a $5,000 bill and go to a primary care doctor or go to an urgent care that goes somewhere who's going to check you out. Make sure that everything is, first of all, in order where you're not in serious harm's way, but also that they're going to have that medical note in close proximity to the accident that says, you know, this driver was involved in an accident last night, he's complaining of neck and back pain. I've recommended that he return to us in a week, if the pains haven't resolved.

What you've done right there is you've created a causal connection between the accident and the injury. And if the pain goes away, and you don't have the you know, any need for future treatment, and then you've spent whatever the cost of that one visit was $100 to go to the the urgent care. And that's worth it for two reasons. One, you make sure that you're healthy, the accident didn't cause some issue that you're unaware of. In two, you now have bought yourself time to see how the injury progresses. And if it gets worse, the insurance company can't later come back and say, Well, if you were really hurt, you would have gone to the doctor sooner. So don't be a hero. Make documentation of the event and the pains that have resulted there from

One more point on on the accident. It's also, as I talked about before gathering evidence, you know, many drivers don't want to call the police, they don't want the event to disrupt their night, they want to continue driving continue earning money. The police report is one of the most important pieces of evidence that you can have, because it documents who was there, the insurance that they had the positions of the vehicles, oftentimes who was at fault. And when we have that documentation all the sudden, we were starting out on a much better path to your recovery.

If I can show the insurance company that report that was taken the day of the occurrence by somebody reputable, like a police officer, to state what happened, we're going to be able to hit the ground running on your claim rather than sorting out facts and them saying, well, I need to talk to my driver to get this all sorted out. We want to move this thing fast for you so you can get going. And the the fact that you took the time to make that report at the scene will help us do that.

EntreCourier

Yeah. And it's just like it is every detail that you could possibly think of getting togetheris I think going to help you there. At what point should somebody contact a lawyer then?

Bryant

We recommend that you contact a lawyer after any accident just to understand what your options are. I will tell you that if it's a minor event, where it's, you know, property damage, and you're, you know, you might just need a nudge in the right direction, I will give you that information. For free, you don't have to pay me any sort of retainer or anything like that, that's a conversation I'm willing to have. And I want you to handle that case on yourself. The reason being, you can, you just need to be told you know, where to go and what to do, and that you can handle it, get back on the road and not have to pay a lawyer. If you just say it's a property damage claim, you know, you bring on a lawyer, and I take a percentage of what we recover, then you're still in a situation where you don't have enough money to fix your car. So what good have we really done? Call us, we'll give you the information.

Now, if there's a more serious event where you're seriously injured, you're going to need medical treatment that, you know, goes beyond that initial appointment, it's vital that you get in touch with a lawyer because the lawyers going to be able to communicate with the insurance company in a way that somebody who doesn't see this every day just won't have the knowledge to do. So. For example, pretty much everybody knows that if you're in an accident, the at fault drivers insurance is responsible for medical bills. You know, that's one thing that that I think, is fairly common knowledge.

But what people don't understand is how to maximize the non economic factors of the case. So the pain and suffering, that temporary disability, loss of enjoyment of life, things that don't have receipts attached to them, the insurance companies are typically not going to offer money to a non lawyer for those types of damages. As soon as the lawyer gets involved and starts talking the talk, the insurance company is going to be forced to add dollars to whatever offer that they're making to you. So when there's an injury, you really need to bring on a lawyer to maximize the claim.

EntreCourier

And what's the best way to find a lawyer? You know actually, that there's probably two parts of that question. You know, one is, where are you able to help out? Is that anything that's kind of related to jurisdiction or anything like that? Is it at what point is it better to find somebody locally? And what point is it what's the best way to find somebody? Is it the guy that that has the best ads on the… I used to say on the phone book, but those days are kind of thing?

Bryant

Yes they are.

EntreCourier

I guess the billboards now.

Bryant

That's a good question. Yes. Now it's billboard, right?

So what I recommend is, you can contact us LegalRideshare.com. And in most situations, regardless of where you are in the country, we can assist you. And if we find that your case is specific in a way that requires somebody local, we have connections in all 50 states that we can send you to the right lawyer who handles these types of cases, isn't going to be fumbling through the process, it will allow you to hit the ground running. So LegalRideshare is a great place for you to seek representation, and also get a referral when it comes to that.

EntreCourier

Okay. All right. That's good to know. Any other advice that you would offer on that side of things that maybe I have missed, or it didn't ask the right questions or anything?

Bryant

No, you know, I think that you've really done a nice job of hitting on all the different caveats of the work and you know, how independent contractor versus employee and rideshare insurance versus non rideshare insurance, those are the big ones, and that's what people who find themselves in this profession really need to be aware of and educate themselves on and seek advice on when it comes to it.

EntreCourier

Okay, thank you. And one other thing I want to kind of touch on a little bit. You guys have recently been involved with a partnership with Kover.ai and I used to call them Koe-var and then I found out I was pronouncing that wrong. But that's K.o.v.e.r. Tell me a little bit about that. Because that's that's a little bit different area but something that you've partnered with them lately to help drivers who are being deactivated.

Bryant

Yeah, Kover is a really great company and it's something that every gig worker should be aware of. They provide benefits and coverage to drivers who find themselves unable to work, whether it's accident, deactivation, sick, you name it. They'll provide benefits and lost wages for a period of time to help you get back on your feet.

One of the things that we realized together when we started working with cover is that drivers who are deactivated, often have no recourse. We've told drivers for years that there's there's no due process in rideshare. There's no due process in gig work. What we mean by that is if you get deactivated, you're not entitled to a hearing, you're not entitled to really a wrongful termination lawsuit. Those laws don't cover this faction of worker, and there's this hole that many drivers have found themselves in.

So Kover came to us and said, What can we do about this? And we decided that one of the best things that we can do is force the companies to look back at each drivers case individually, and figure out why was this driver deactivated? What event or events lead to that? And demand answers. Because if they can't give them to us, then why is the person unable to work? So we started writing letters for each driver, to the particular company that they got deactivated from, and we've had great success in the companies are, are actually being relatively fair in terms of going through. And looking at each case individually. We've had many drivers, get their accounts reactivated, get them back on the road, and it allows them to start earning again. So we've been very, very happy with the results of our campaign.

EntreCourier.

And I think that's one of the things that it's what we were talking about earlier about being an independent contractor. You're on your own on a lot of things. And I think one of the things a lot of people don't realize is you've got to understand that this is not an employment situation, you do not have the protections that go with it. And I make the comment a lot that you know, that these companies are actually your customers and not your bosses. Well, there are some areas where that's a great thing about the relationship, because you have a lot of freedoms with that. But when it comes to the fact that, say, if you're operating a business or restaurant, a store, you can't force your customers to keep coming back. And so that's the part that kind of leaves people hanging, I think.

Bryant

That's very true. And, you know, when we started years ago, we got the activation call after deactivation call, people just didn't know what to do. And we would tell people, they can dismiss you because they don't like the color of your shirt. And there's truly nothing wrong with that, under the law, because you are an independent contractor, you're not an employee, they owe you no explanation. But when we started this campaign with Kover, we realized that the rideshare companies, they you know, there's many levels, there's many people who touch each one of these claims, and sometimes drivers get deactivated because the wrong posting touches the file.

And when we start writing these letters, it requires the higher ups to re evaluate what happened. And when they realize that they did deactivate you because of the color of your shirt, not because you put some safety risk there turning the light back on. And that's what we can ask for, you know, at the end of the day, we don't want unsafe drivers on the road, none of us do. They give gig workers a bad name. They give the whole community a bad name. We want safe drivers doing safe good work.

And the good drivers shouldn't be deactivated, the ones that do the job, right? The ones with high reviews, the ones who do get there on time and follow the rules. There's no reason why one customer's complaint or, you know, one negative interaction that really didn't mean anything should cost that person their job. And by the companies coming back and re evaluating each case individually, we're finding that those drivers are getting put back on the platforms. I think some of what happens with this is that

EntreCourier

I think some of what happens with this, and maybe you see something different. But I'm kind of getting this idea that a lot of it happens because these companies are treating this the same way as you're treating support as the same way as they're treating just getting stuff out there getting stuff done is they're trying to do it with as little human interaction as possible or something with as little labor cost as possible. And so they rely, I think a lot on an algorithm that says okay, something looks out of place here or something like that. And then they'll just let it happen that way rather than have somebody actually dig into it and find out what's going on.

Bryant

I think that's right, because it's easy, it's quick and at the end of the day they're not going to get sued over it. They're not going to find themselves in an employment wrongful termination lawsuit because the law doesn't support it. That case would get thrown out.

Now there are mechanisms through the terms of service through arbitration. You could challenge those decisions but they're not going to find themselves with some massive lawsuit or jury verdict against them. And they feel safe then just turning the red light on some driver's account because that's the easiest thing to do.

EntreCourier

What happens when somebody gets one of the latest terms that they love to use lately is fraud. It looks like they lump everything from acceptance rates to everything else into fraudulent activity. They say “it looks like fradulent activity,” and so something like that happens. Well now they said they've terminated you for fraud but they don't tell you what the fraud was, and there's no recourse for somebody when that happens.

Bryant

Some of these correspondences we're having with these companies, we're shining the light on what they mean by fraud. You're right that it can mean a variety of things when you get that notice that your account has been deactivated. We get letters from the attorneys for the delivery companies that give more specifics.

Sometimes, that's what a driver needs to see. The driver thinks that there's been some sort of wrongdoing on behalf of the company because they don't understand the basis of the deactivation. But then we get a letter fromt he company that says, well actually they were unable to pick up these ten orders or they delivered to the wrong addresses or whatever the situation may be. It provides clarity. It forces both the company and the driver to come to terms with the specific event.

Sometimes in the same regard the company will have cited fraud. They'll go back through their records and realize, well this was one event. Really not that big of a deal, we'll turn it up or we'll turn it back on. If it's a pattern, the driver sees okay, this is what they meant, if I was unable to complete the task on a consistent basis at least I have an answer on the company's basis.

EntreCourier

I think that's one thing that would be maybe a little more helpful on the part of the companies is if they were more forthcoming to begin with on what incident was it? I think that's the thing as I read a lot of forums is that people can't get an answer as to where did it happen? What exactly was it? It would help, I would think, if they knew. I kind of wonder if part of the reason they're not as forthcoming (and this is just the conspiracy theory tin hat wearing guy in me here) is that if they start giving a lot of specifics then they're kind of putting themselves at risk of being more controlling. Part of that whole misclassification thing.

Bryant

Yeah, I think that that's certainly part of it. I also think that it's quicker to just write the word fraud. So often there's a lack of a human element, a humanity to how the companies treat their workers, that I think they don't in a lot of regards care whether they're providing closure to a driver but rather they're just kicking them out the door.

That's why so many drivers get frustrated, and that's why the letters that we're writing with Kover are helpful. One, they might get the driver's account back on and two, they might just get the explanation that they need.

EntreCourier.

Yep. I'm going to have Kover on, hoping maybe next week, I've been talking with somebody from there about having them on to talk about their service. My goodness, for what they charge to have that kind of protection and some of the other things that they do, I would agree with you completely. I subscribed with them just a couple weeks ago

Bryant

It's well worth it.

EntreCourier

Yeah. And I don't think they charge enough.

Bryant

Well don't tell them that.

EntreCourier

No. I understand. That brings me to one last question. I want to ask your thoughts on this whole misclassification thing, especially when it comes to AB5 in Calfirnia, Prop 22 coming up. What do you think as far as that goes? Or should I ask that question?

Bryant

You know, I'm glad that you did. It's one of those situations where different people think different ways within the gig world. I know drivers who are adamantly for AB5 and I know drivers who are adamantly against it. A lot of it depends on where you find yourself and what you use this work for. A driver who works full time delivery or rideshare really needs more protection than somebody who does it five to ten hours a week.

I often think of two different types of people. Say the soccer mom who goes out and does deliveries two hours every other day so that she can pay for new shoes for her son or the fees for participation. That person doesn't need the same protection as the one who has to rely on the work to put food on the table.

I am of the opinion that more protection is better, because I want to protect the people who are most vulnerable. That means the driver who uses these services for their livelihood. I've seen too many situations where a driver has been involved in what seems to be a minor event, a fender bender, but can't get the car fixed because they didn't have the proper insurance, or needs to take a few weeks off because their back is really too hurt for, you know, two, three weeks. We're not saying some catastrophic injury, but they find themselves where they can't make ends meet. They find themselves gettind deeper and deeper into a hole. Then a seemingly innocuous event has changed their lives.

Certainly there are different perspectives, and I respect everyone's thought on it. But I want to make sure the person who needs protection is protected in that they have what they need to keep their heads above water.

EntreCourier

That's a good thought. I want to ask a question that's kind of related to this and I'll get back to that in a second on why. You talked earlier on how the gig companies don't require you to have commercial insurance or don't, they just need to be insured. Why do you think they don't require that when, by not requiring that and not telling people that, it kind of leaves people open and vulnerable.

Bryant

Well they want the largest possible driver base that they can possibly get. That means if you can go buy cheap insurance and get on their platform, that's to their benefit. If you're not protected and the inevitable happens that's not really their problem.

EntreCourier

Yeah. I think that's my theory too. The reason that I got to that question gets back to this whole AB5 thing. I mean personally, if I were to have to become an employee, I'm done with delivery. That's just my approach. I don't know if I'm a rarity maybe, being fulltime and feeling that way. Maybe it's because I do understand what it means to be an independent contractor. I approach it that way, and that's what I try and really tell people with this website and this podcast, is to really encourage people to look at it like you're running a business and that's the best way to avoid being taken advantage of.

So in that regard I am more in favor of, I'm glad I'm not in California because if I was I'd be more in favor of Prop 22 passing just because that would keep me from having to be classified as an employee.

The flip side of that is it gets back to this whole issue of the problem behind what we just talked about with the insurance, that they don't tell you that you need that, because if they told you they wouldn't probably get enough people to do it. They don't tell people, they don't make it as clear as they should make it that you're independent contractors, that you're completely on your own. If people understood that, they wouldn't get enough people. Ultimately what that tells me is that these companies are really treating more like they want to hire and get the benefits as though they are employees but then get the benefit of not having to pay them as if they were employees.

Bryant

They're double dipping. It's problematic and at the end there needs to be a change. I don't think that Prop 22 is enough. But I do think that that's probably where we're headed, that nationwide we'll see more laws like Prop 22 that provide occupational hazard insurance instead of health insurance. Look, I don't really care how the rideshare companies pay injured people, but if you're injured on the job you need to have a safety net. However we classify them and whatever caveats that there are that may give the rideshare companies the ability to continue to earn in a productive way and keep rideshare and delivery jobs viable and in the same regard protect the worker, I'm open to the conversation. But I'd like to see it go further than what Prop 22 is.

EntreCourier

Yeah, I agree, and in fact I'm concerned because Prop 22 allows them to actually have a little more control over contractors. Part of that control becomes that if you're going to offer a minimum pay, that gives them the right to control some areas. I think it takes them a step further away from where they were as contractors. They don't let everyone know that part of Prop 22.

Bryant

It'll be very interesting to see how it plays out.

EntreCourier

It will. I wish that there were some way to police the control as opposed to just changing and saying you can't use contractors at all. Nobody seems to want to try to find that middle ground.

Bryant

Yeah, I think that rideshare and gig work in general is so new relatively speaking that I think the lawmakers are a bit baffled on how to respond in a way that's good for the economics of hte work and the worker who's ultimately bringing in bucks for the company. I think this will continue to be tweaked and eventually we'll find a middle ground that works. Until we do, I'd like to see the worker prioritized instead of the company.

EntreCourier.

I understand that. I understand completely.

Well Bryant, I want to thank you so much for coming on. I probably kept you longer than I planned to and I apologize for taking up so much of your time. Thank you so much for helping out. Any last thoughts that you want to share that I can pass on to everybody?

Bryant

No, it was a real pleasure to chat with you and I hope that we have provided some beneficial content to your listeners. If anybody has any questions, they can always reach us through our website at LegalRideshare.com. There's a submission form right on there that will come right to me if you want to get in touch with me.

EntreCourier

Okay, perfect. And I'll put links in the shownotes and it'll be at EntreCourier.com/94 because we're on episode 94 today. With that, it'll have like the transcript and I'll have links there as well so that people can know where to find you. Thank you again for coming on, I really appreciate it.

Bryant

It was great chatting.

EntreCourier

It was great. Thanks.

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Chris

Friday 23rd of October 2020

Rarely do I seek out the author, much less leave a comment. As someone who's just cutting their teeth in the delivery scene, it was incredibly helpful to come across your piece. Sure, it's not astrophysics or neurology, but it spoke to me. Oddly enough, my takeaway had little to do with the content (although that was well written and beneficial), and more to do with general human connection. Will be listening to the podcast!

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