A.G. Schneiderman & TLC Recover $845,000 From NYC Taxicab Company That Overcharged Drivers

A.G. Schneiderman & TLC Recover $845,000 From NYC Taxicab Company That Overcharged Drivers

NEW YORK – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) Commissioner Meera Joshi today announced that Style Management Corp. (Style) and its owner Andrew Rosenberg have agreed to pay $750,000 in restitution to drivers who were illegally charged by the company, as well as $47,500 in penalties. Under a separate agreement with the TLC, Style will also pay an additional $47,500 in penalties, for a total of $845,000 in restitution and fines.  Style is located at 514 West 44th Street in Manhattan, and manages or owns approximately 142 medallions.

Today’s announcement marks the third settlement resulting from a joint enforcement initiative of the Attorney General and the TLC to protect the rights of New York City's taxi drivers under the TLC’s “lease cap rules,” which limit the amount of money drivers may be charged for leasing taxicabs and medallions.

"Taxi drivers work hard every day to keep New York moving and their earnings should not be squeezed by taxi companies which own or manage medallions," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "My office will continue to protect the income of New York’s working people, including taxi drivers.  Alongside TLC Commissioner Joshi, we will be vigilant in enforcing the rules."

"We are grateful for Attorney General Schneiderman’s ongoing commitment to protecting the rights of hardworking taxi drivers," said TLC Commissioner and Chair Meera Joshi, "as well as to the accountability that must be at the heart of our regulated industries.  The Attorney General/TLC joint prosecution initiative continues to send a powerful message of support to TLC drivers, and an equally strong warning to those who would contemplate depriving them of their hard-earned pay."

Many drivers lease their cabs on a daily basis from owners and leasing agents.  The TLC lease cap rules limit the dollar amount drivers may be charged for leasing medallions and taxicabs, in order to ensure a baseline level of take-home earnings for drivers.  The rules also strictly limit add-on charges that can be imposed upon drivers and limit the purposes for which charges may be assessed. Overcharges by owners or agents chisel away at drivers’ limited income.

The Attorney General’s investigation of Style revealed that the company violated the TLC’s lease cap rules by charging amounts in excess of the amounts allowed under law, and by rounding drivers’ credit card fare earnings to even dollar amounts, almost always rounding in Style’s favor.

In addition to the $845,000 owed under the Attorney General’s and TLC’s agreements, Style must also take steps to ensure future compliance with the law. Specifically, Style must train managers and other employees, post a notice about lease cap rules, and appoint a compliance officer with responsibility for ensuring the company’s compliance with the agreement and with TLC Rules governing lease caps. Style will also make quarterly reports to the Attorney General’s Office. Should the company fail to comply with the law going forward, it will be required to retain an independent monitor to monitor and report on the company’s compliance. In addition, Style will have to notify the TLC when it imposes any type of new fee upon drivers.

In September 2013, the Attorney General and TLC entered into an ongoing collaboration to enforce lease cap rules. Today’s announcement follows the Attorney General and TLC’s August 2014 settlement for $1.6 million, with a company that overcharged drivers in violation of TLC lease cap rules.  In addition, in December 2013, the Attorney General and the TLC settled an investigation into four taxicab companies for overcharging drivers in violation of TLC lease cap rules, with $750,000 in restitution for drivers and $500,000 to the TLC for penalties.  The Attorney General subsequently filed a lawsuit in April 2015 based on violations of that settlement agreement; that lawsuit is pending.

The case was handled by TLC Prosecuting Attorney David Ross and Jason Gonzalez, who were deputized as a Special Assistant Attorney General, and by Assistant Attorney General Donya Fernandez.  The Labor Bureau Chief is Terri Gerstein and the Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice is Alvin Bragg.