In fact, the actual figures were $61,000 in New York and $53,000 in San Francisco, and fewer than 20 percent of drivers in the District reached $21 an hour, according to the complaint.
And while Uber touted “the best financing options available” for cars, drivers ended up with worse-than-average rates, the FTC said.
Uber’s $20 million settlement will go toward refunds for drivers who were “taken for a ride,” according to Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This settlement will put millions of dollars back in Uber drivers’ pockets.”
Uber did not state in the settlement that it shorted its drivers. The company argues that this was a disagreement with federal officials on how to calculate earnings, given the diverse work schedules of its drivers. Uber also blamed its third-party financing partners for problems on that front, and the company now handles financing itself.
“We’re pleased to have reached an agreement with the FTC,” an Uber spokeswoman said. “We’ve made many improvements to the driver experience over the last year and will continue to focus on ensuring that Uber is the best option for anyone looking to earn money on their own schedule.”
The FTC vote authorizing the complaint was 2 to 1, with commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen dissenting. She said that in 2015 Uber drivers earned more than $3.5 billion, and said that “earnings vary based on the effort of the participant.” Using “a simple median could disguise the true range of possibilities,” she said.
But Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild, which says it represents more than 45,000 Uber drivers in New York City, said “drivers deserve the fair pay they were promised, tips like other workers in the service economy, and unbiased data on the earnings and expenses of ridesharing…It’s time to give working drivers a raise.”