Fees, Expenses for Cab Drivers Don't Violate Wage Law

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By Jay-Anne Casuga

Jan. 12 — A class of current and former Chicago taxicab drivers can't proceed with claims that their employers violated the Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act by charging them shift fees and operating expenses, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled Jan. 11.

Affirming the dismissal of the drivers' claims, the Seventh Circuit found that they can't assert an IWPCA cause of action for a lack of fair wages and improper fees because the employment agreements they had with Chicago Carriage Cab Corp. and other companies didn't obligate the employers to pay any wages to the drivers.

The IWPCA defines wages as “compensation owed by the employer” under an employment agreement. The court said the contracts in the present case stated that the drivers “only required defendants to make their cabs and medallions available to the drivers so that they could collect tips and fares from passengers.”

Taxicab drivers generally are considered self-employed workers and their numbers are declining despite the rise of the “gig” economy in which workers participate in sharing businesses to supplement traditional employment earnings.

Judge Joel M. Flaum wrote the opinion, joined by Judges Ann C. Williams and Diane S. Sykes.