Legal Aid Files Litigation Challenging Oath Decision That Upholds Practice of NYPD Issuing E-bike Summonses to Food Delivery Workers Instead of Their Employers

Lawsuit Also Names NYPD and Challenges the Department’s Enforcement Tactics Which Still Illegally Target Delivery Workers

The Legal Aid Society filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a Legal Aid client in New York State Supreme Court challenging a recent Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) decision which states that New York Police Department (NYPD) officers may issue $500 summonses to food delivery workers who utilize e-bikes for deliveries in New York City. This decision ignores the NYPD Patrol Guide and misinterprets New York City Administrative Code Section 10-157(k), which explicitly directs officers to issues summonses to business owners and vendors instead of the delivery workers who ride these bikes.

  • Read the press release (PDF)
  • View the complaint (PDF)
  • The lawsuit also names the NYPD for continuing to unlawfully issue summonses to e-bike delivery workers. The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a food delivery worker employed by a restaurant in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. On November 17, 2018, while out making a delivery for his employer, he was issued a summons for riding an e-bike, even though he was carrying a food order.

    At $500 each, these summonses can be crippling for most delivery workers, many of whom live paycheck-to-paycheck and have limited financial resources. Moreover, the NYPD continues to confiscate e-bikes from workers, thereby completely stripping them of their livelihoods.

    “With this ruling, OATH disregards the NYPD Patrol Guide and the New York City Administrative Code concerning who should shoulder e-bike fines – businesses or workers,” said Steven Wasserman, Staff Attorney with the Special Litigation Unit at The Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Practice. “This lawsuit is designed to ensure that OATH complies with existing law so that our clients and other low-income food delivery workers are no longer illegally ticketed while trying to earn a living.”

    Last week, an analysis of the City’s NYPD Motor Vehicle Collisions database by Do Lee, a Biking Public Project organizer, and Alex Rhodd, Research and Data Quality Analyst at The Legal Aid Society, found that e-bikes account for an extremely small percentage of injuries in collisions.

    These data underscore the fact that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s crackdown on these types of bikes based on alleged “safety concerns” is unfounded and discriminatory. They also highlight the prevalence of over-policing to which people of color and low-income communities are routinely subjected.