Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York must immediately start paying unemployment benefits to ride-hailing drivers, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Why it matters: This is the latest victory for Uber and Lyft drivers who have waged a lengthy campaign pushing for benefits comparable to those received by traditional workers. Previous New York rulings have established that drivers are eligible for unemployment benefits.

Details: The ruling is a preliminary injunction, meaning the state must follow the order even while it appeals and litigation continues in the case, in which drivers sued New York over months-long delays in processing unemployment claims.

  • The New York Department of Labor must form a working group within seven days to begin working through the backlog of claims.
  • The judge also called out Uber and Lyft for not being forthcoming enough with driver earnings data to make claims processing faster, though ultimately determined that it shouldn't be a reason for the state to be so delayed in processing the claims.

From an Uber spokesperson:

Our current employment system is outdated and unfair because it requires that employees get benefits and protections, while independent workers who choose flexible work don’t. We fought for all workers to receive unemployment benefits in the CARES Act, we provided all data the NYDOL requested so they could give independent workers financial assistance, and we will continue to fight for all workers to get financial support—not just those doing a certain type of work.

Lyft declined to comment as it's not a party to the lawsuit, though it reiterated that it continues to work with the state's labor department on providing data.

Editor's note: The story has been updated with responses from Uber and Lyft and additional details from the judge's ruling.

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