This Week in Rideshare: Pardons, Layoffs, and Offers.

3 min readJan 22, 2021


Instacart cuts jobs, an engineer gets pardoned, and Lyft launches a new offer. LegalRideshare Breaks it down.

MONDAY 1/18/21

Uber, once a victim, now a victor of an ad fraud case. Forbes explains:

“Uber counterclaimed against Phunware, accusing it, its co-founder and CEO Alan Knitowski and several other employees of wire fraud, racketeering, transporting fraudulently obtained funds across state lines and common law fraud, seeking up to $17 million in compensation as well as additional amounts for punitive damages.

Ultimately, in a form of victory rarely seen in the courts, the Reed Smith team won a motion for terminating sanctions against Phunware. The Reed Smith motion was granted owing to Phunware’s spoilation of evidence, which was uncovered in discovery.

TUESDAY 1/19/21

Even with a new administration in the White House, old demands remain. Specifically, gig workers being treated as employees. A New York Times opinion piece adds:

App workers need the same benefits afforded to traditional workers, including payment for time between assignments, unemployment benefits and the right to organize. The pandemic, which greatly worsened conditions for delivery workers and “shoppers” (the people assembling grocery orders), has exposed just how vital basic protections are for vulnerable workers.


The Uber engineer who stole from Google got a lucky break. Ars Technica explains:

On his final full day in office, Donald Trump pardoned Anthony Levandowski, the engineer at the center of Waymo’s epic 2017 trade secret battle with Uber. Last year, Levandowski pleaded guilty to stealing a single confidential Google document; prosecutors agreed to drop other pending charges against him.

Levandowski was a key early member of Google’s self-driving car project, but he quit Google in early 2016 to found his own self-driving startup. Within months, the startup was acquired by Uber for a nine-figure sum, and Levandowski was put in charge of Uber’s self-driving efforts.

THURSDAY 1/21/21

Instacart announced that more than 1800 in-store shoppers would lose their jobs. Most notably, a group of shoppers who unionized last year. CNN reported:

Instacart has informed the local chapter of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents the Instacart Skokie Mariano’s bargaining unit, that approximately 366 Instacart in-store shoppers for Kroger-owned stores nationwide, including those at the Skokie Mariano’s store, will lose their positions, according to a letter sent this week by a labor attorney representing Instacart.

FRIDAY 1/22/21

Lyft offered drivers an enticing incentive, but there’s a catch. CNET explains:

“Turn on priority mode to earn more,” the email boasted. When drivers opted in, it said they’d get a handful of “priority” hours per week in which they’d get more rides than drivers who weren’t using the feature.

But there’s a catch. In priority mode, drivers must agree to a 10% pay cut.

Despite her skepticism, Phillips finally caved and gave priority mode a try. She got a few rides, used up her hours and didn’t notice much of a difference. What was notable, however, was that when she turned priority mode off she said she barely got any rides.

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