Vermont Uber drivers angry about settlement payout

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The ride-sharing company Uber is paying Vermont $600,000 as part of a major settlement. It comes after the company hid a data breach. The Attorney General's office is handing out $100 to each affected Uber driver in Vermont, but some say that is not enough.

"For drivers to get $100 when they're the actual victims is unconscionable," said Evan Litwin, who drives for Uber. He joined the company after the data breach in 2016, but shares frustration with his friend Becky Swem. Swem's been with Uber for almost three years and couldn't believe she hadn't heard anything when the data breach first happened.

"It didn't make me feel very secure," Swem said. She's even more upset that the Attorney General's office is offering $100 to the 182 Uber drivers effected in Vermont. "I mean you've got a lot of lower income folks, a lot of people working 2 or 3 jobs that were impacted, who are victims of a security breach and are getting barely anything -- with the state, who wasn't impacted, keeping the vast majority of the money."

Swem says drivers should have gotten more of the $600,000 settlement. If each driver claims their $100, that's $18,200, or 3 percent of the total portion. The remaining $581,800 goes to the state.

"That's the law. I mean, penalty money has to go to the state treasury," said Ryan Kriger with the Attorney General's office. He says $100 is similar to what other states paid out. He says the AG's office also has to think about precedent. "If we require a $100 per consumer every time there is a data breach, if there is a data breach where 100,000 consumers are effected, what happens then?"

Litwin and Swem still work for Uber. They're unhappy with the company for the lack of data protection, but are even more unhappy with the payout.

"If you reverse the roles, and give the victims 97 percent, each driver would be receiving $3,200, and I think when you hear it that way it really goes to show you how much money is being siphoned off as a de facto tax. It makes me question if these are consumer protection laws or whether they're predatory or exploitative," Litwin said.

The Attorney General says they will contact the affected drivers, whether they still work for Uber or not.