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Image credit: Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

Lyft drivers would make more as employees, estimates show

A settlement estimate suggests that a casual Lyft driver would have made $835 more over 4 years.

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Hutton Supancic/Getty Images for SXSW

Critics claim that ridesharing companies stiff drivers by labeling them as contractors rather than full employees, but how much are they losing out on, really? Quite a bit, if you ask those drivers' lawyers. In the wake of Lyft's proposed lawsuit settlement over worker statuses, the attorneys have produced a court-ordered estimate showing that the average driver would have made an additional $835 in expense reimbursements over the past 4 years if treated as full-fledged staff. That may not sound like much, but most of the drivers covered in the lawsuit worked just 60 hours over those years -- that's a lot of money for relatively little effort. Particularly busy drivers would have earned considerably more, according to the calculations.

Whether or not the estimate is on the mark isn't clear. We've reached out to Lyft for its take, and we'll let you know if it has a response. However precise the figures might be, they could have a big impact on the proposed settlement. It reckons that there would have been a total of $126 million in expense reimbursements, or more than 10 times the $12.25 million Lyft has agreed to pay so far. Although lawyers on both sides are currently fine with the deal, both the Teamsters union and five drivers already object to it -- and they're likely to be that much angrier knowing that the lost income estimate is so high.

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