Court overturns Bloomberg health fund for taxi drivers

Tweet Share on Facebook Share on Tumblr Print

A Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that the Bloomberg administration overstepped its bounds when it created a fund to help taxi drivers navigate the Affordable Care Act and provide support to disabled cabbies, an act that she found is more rightly, "a function for the legislature."

Justice Margaret Chan's ruling responds to three separate suits challenging the Taxi and Limousine Commission's move, in 2012, to deduct six cents from every taxi fare paid with a credit card, with the resulting revenue going to a health fund administed by the Taxi Workers Alliance.

The suits had the support of medallion owners and leasing agents in the Greater New York Taxi Association and the Committee for Taxi Safety.

The litigants challenged the creation of the fund, which was created to promote the health of taxi drivers, who are technically independent contractors without employer health benefits.

MORE ON CAPITAL

ADVERTISEMENT

They argued that the city was violating the separation of powers by taking on what was effectively a legislative function; and that the six cent deduction was "arbitrary and capricious."

Chan agreed.

"There is no nexus between the requirements for a taxi driver license and assisting taxi drivers with the Affordable Care Act and supplemental disability coverage," she wrote. “If TLC were concerned about a taxi driver’s health affecting the driver and the public at large, it might better serve both if the drivers were to go for an annual health check-up rather than deduct six cents from every fare to help drivers with choosing an insurance in the hopes that they will seek medical care."

Eric Hecker, an attorney representing some of the plaintiffs, said, “The Court recognized that the TLC has no authority to force taxi drivers to spend millions of dollars of their hard-earned money on administrative services that they do not need and disability insurance that they already have.”

"Dumbfounding," was how Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the Taxi Workers Alliance that was to administer the fund, described it.

"The political structure has been so unjust to taxi drivers for so many decades and everyone holds out hope that you will find some sense of justice in the court system," she said.

She expressed hope that the city would appeal.

Asked for comment, Taxi and Limousine Commission spokesman Allan Fromberg emailed, "While we have only just received and are in the process of reviewing this decision, we want to reiterate our ongoing commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of New York City's dedicated taxi drivers."

You can read the ruling here.