North Texas Uber driver under quarantine denied promised paid sick leave

A North Texas Uber driver was out of work and off the ride-sharing platform after being told to quarantine at home.

However, she says the company wouldn't make good on their promise to pay employees who had to sit out due to coronavirus concerns.

Michelle Westwood has logged many miles as an Uber driver. It's her primary source of income.

“I'm a single mom,” she said. “It allows me to work around my son's schedule.”

It also means lots of trips to and from the airport driving passengers from all over the world. Yet when Westwood started to feel sick, her first thought wasn't coronavirus, despite her symptoms.

“It was everything they tell you to look out for,” she said. “But at the same time, I'm asthmatic and it's allergy season.”

But when Westwood’s son started to have the same symptoms, they went to the ER. Since she hadn't traveled internationally herself, she didn't qualify for COVID-19 testing.

“When they found out I drive for Uber and I had been picking up people at the airport who had been traveling internationally, that ban everyone was rushing to get home. They asked me to quarantine,” she said.

Luckily, Uber sent out a message to drivers that says if they are asked by a medical professional to self-isolate due to a high risk of spreading COVID-19, the rideshare company would pay a driver an average of their earnings for up to 14 days while they're off the road.

“When I turned in the documentation that they asked me to quarantine, they took me off the platform,” she said.

But despite a letter from Westwood's doctor which instructed her to "quarantine herself for two weeks in order to limit the spread of potential infection," her request was denied.

“I got a notification that I didn't meet the qualification,” she said. “I had incomplete documentation.”

For two weeks, Westwood says she tried and tried but didn't get anywhere.

FOX 4 then reached out to Uber on behalf of Westwood. And within hours, her full 14 days of pay was deposited into her account.

Westwood’s access to the system has been restored, now that her medical quarantine is over.

“Honestly, I think they knew what they needed to do,” she said. “It just took the right person to make them realize what they were doing was the wrong thing.”

An Uber spokesperson says they are dedicated to supporting drivers around the world with their assistance package and working to do so the best they can.

Regardless of the employer, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave to recover from or care for someone with coronavirus. There are restrictions on which type of companies qualify.