Stabbed Uber driver files class-action lawsuit against tech company

AP PHOTO/ERIC RISBERGIn this photo taken Tuesday

A former Uber driver who was stabbed in the face by a passenger has filed a class-action lawsuit against Uber, alleging the technology company inappropriately classifies its drivers as independent contractors, when they are allegedly employees.

The former driver, Abdo Ghazi, also alleges he is owed workers’ compensation, which he would get if he were classified as an employee by Uber.

To date, Uber has not paid Ghazi for his medical bills or any other costs he bore after the night of the attack.

“They said they were sorry for it, but didn’t offer any compensation,” Ghazi’s attorney, Conor Granahan, told The San Francisco Examiner. Uber did not respond to request for comment.

The suit, filed Tuesday, seeks to reclassify Uber drivers as employees. Or at the very least, Granahan said, classified as employees expressly for the purpose of workers’ compensation. Anyone who is an Uber driver, or who has worked in that capacity, is included as a plaintiff in the suit.

Drivers can download the Uber app and begin picking up customers after a background check, and other criteria. The drivers are classified as independent contractors, meaning they are not considered legal employees of Uber. Ghazi’s suit joins a rising number of class-action suits across the country alleging technology companies like Uber, Lyft and others are actually employers.

These companies maintain they are merely conduits that connect a provider of a service with someone seeking a service. Ghazi’s suit is different than previous suits in that it focuses on workers’ compensation, spurred by a gruesome attack that Ghazi paid for twice: By blood and by wallet.

Ghazi has worked as a building maintenance worker in downtown San Francisco since the 1980s, but drove a taxi part time to make ends meet for his wife and children, according to the complaint. As taxi fares began to decline, he started driving for Uber.

Ghazi was attacked in November after picking up two men and one woman via the Uber app. After letting out one man and the woman, Ghazi drove the last man to Clement Street and 18th Avenue. According to the complaint, 10 blocks from their destination “without any provocation or warning” the passenger leapt into the front seat with Ghazi.

The passenger punched Ghazi and stabbed him in the face. Ghazi tried to escape, but the passenger held down the buckle and continued to stab him. After striking Ghazi a few more times, the passenger abruptly fled. “Stunned and badly wounded, Mr. Ghazi dialed 911 on his phone as he lay bleeding,” the complaint writes.

Ghazi was treated at Kaiser hospital, and was contacted by officers Faynshteyn and Campbell, according to the Richmond Police Station newsletter. The attacker was booked into county jail for aggravated assault charges.

Ghazi incurred medical bills, and was unable to work until January due to his injuries. He will require further medical attention for his injuries, which include a broken nose and four puncture wounds to his chin and mouth.

To view the lawsuit click here

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