Lyft Passenger Caught on Video Assaulting Driver Inside Moving Vehicle

Illustration for article titled Lyft Passenger Caught on Video Assaulting Driver Inside Moving Vehicle
Screenshot: NBC New York

Rideshare drivers don’t have it easy, but few have had to put up with the nightmare scenario Eduardo Madiedo experienced recently in Queens, New York.

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Like many others in this line of work, Madiedo uses a dashboard camera, which can be useful for challenging inaccurate driver testimony or just keeping drivers safe. Unfortunately, being caught on film did not stop a distressed rider on Thursday from repeatedly punching Madiedo in the back of the head while he was still driving.

The unnamed passenger, who police are currently searching for, according to NBC News, enters the vehicle along with an older female co-rider, with the intention of going to Mount Sinai Hospital. It’s unclear if the passengers were enrolled in Lyft Healthcare—which arranges rides for patients to and from appointments—or if this was a standard trip. Regardless, the passenger seems to be in some form of pain, moaning and laying across the back seat.

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The passenger eventually demands Madiedo drive faster, although there seems to be no way to do so, cursing after being told his request is impossible. “Excuse me, man, if you’re gonna be disrespectful I’ll just pull over right now,” Madiedo replies. Seconds later, the passenger, now shirtless, is punching him in the back of the head while the car is still in motion. Madiedo appears to pull over as the passenger climbs into the front seat briefly, then exits the vehicle and attempts to throw one more punch through the open driver’s side window.

Because Lyft’s business model depends on drivers being considered contractors and not employees, drivers like Eduardo are stuck paying for things like gas, vehicle maintenance, and as may be the case, healthcare. Across the country, rideshare drivers have increasingly engaged in mass protests to push back against falling wages and poor working conditions while the two largest players in this market—Lyft and Uber—made stock market debuts at outrageous valuations.

In a statement emailed to Gizmodo, a Lyft spokesperson said the company considers safety “fundamental” and described the incident Madiedo endured “unacceptable.” Lyft has banned passengers for life for verbally abusing drivers in the past, and the company says it is taking similar action in this case.

There is no place for violence of any kind in our community,” the company spokesperson said.We have permanently banned the passenger and have reached out to the driver to offer our support. We stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.”

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Madiedo luckily did not sustain any serious injuries but is, understandably, seeking other forms of employment.

Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// bgmwrites@gmail.com Keybase: keybase.io/bryangm Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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DISCUSSION

The fact that Uber and Lift treat drivers as contractors is called out a lot, but it’s a nation-wide issue across almost all industries at this point. I am currently well-employed with 20 years experience in IT, but my info is still out there for headhunters (you never know when your dream job is available), but almost every job I get pinged about is a contract position now, and not even a “12 month contract” one like I would see a few years ago where an employer would want someone to come in and get them running and then go. These are what is essentially a full time permanent position with no benefits.

This is a problem. There’s no affordable health care if you aren’t getting it from an employer, you get no time off (which will lead to poor health, circling back to the no health care), and zero job security since the contracts tend to be short term if not month-to-month. And with fewer and fewer FTE jobs available, people are pretty much forced to take these jobs while looking for something better, perpetuating the situation and making it worse. It’s bad. Really bad.