Drivers filed a federal class action lawsuit last week against so-called “driver-friendly” ride-hail apps Gett and Juno, alleging contractual breaches, intentional misrepresentations, false and deceptive advertising, and stock fraud.
When it first launched in New York City in April 2016, Juno positioned itself as the “anti-Uber,” promising better earnings and equity in the company to drivers. Drivers flocked to the app, instantly catapulting Juno to the top tiers of ride-hailing in New York City. But after it was acquired by the Tel Aviv-based Gett for $200 million earlier this year, Juno nullified its equity program with drivers, promising payouts to some drivers who had accumulated shares with the company.
But drivers say those payouts reflect a dramatic devaluation of their stock in the company, with some drivers receiving nothing for their shares and others being cashed out at less than 2 percent per share. In an email to drivers, Juno promised “a new cash incentive plan,” but drivers say the damage has already been done.
“I told people all the time that they should ride Juno,” said Mohammed Siddique, one of the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, in a statement provided by his lawyer. “I would tell them that I had an ownership stake in the company. But it was all a sham. Juno needed us to get them going in New York City so they said and offered whatever it took to get us to come, knowing that they had no intention to live up to their end of the deal. As soon as someone put a big cash offer on the table, Juno forgot all about the drivers that got them there.”
Once Juno officially responds to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs will “move swiftly” to get a judge to approve their class action certification,” attorney Mohammed Gangat told The Verge. Once that happens, the plaintiffs’ lawyers can seek to recruit more drivers in the hopes of bolstering their case. Juno and Gett did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The lawsuit is proof that ride-hail companies pitching themselves as friendlier alternatives to Uber and Lyft are still not immune to much of the upheaval that has plagued those apps. Recently, the Independent Drivers Guild of New York filed a formal complaint against Gett and Juno with the Federal Trade Commission for misleading drivers with false claims about earnings. The FTC has made rulings relevant to the ride-hail industry, ordering Uber to pay $20 million to drivers to settle misleading claims about earnings and financing.