Lyft Is Selling — But Not Providing — Masks and Sanitizer to Drivers

The company can’t easily give away materials without conceding that its drivers are employees

Sarah Emerson
OneZero
Published in
4 min readJul 17, 2020

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A Lyft/Uber driver wearing a surgical mask and gloves pauses in his car, holding his hands together.
Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Lyft has launched a marketplace where drivers on the front lines of the pandemic can buy personal protective equipment (PPE) such as hand sanitizer spray and face masks. The shopping hub, known as the Lyft Store, has been live since June, according to the company.

Throughout the health crisis, Lyft has been criticized by gig labor advocates for failing to support drivers with little to no safety net. The CDC strongly recommends everyone over two years old wear face masks in public settings, as Covid-19 mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets. In states like California, masks are required in public and high-risk settings.

Edan Alva, an Alameda-based Lyft driver, tweeted about the marketplace on Thursday, saying the company has “opened an online store to sell its workers the equipment that it should have provided them for free long time ago to protect them from COVID-19.”

The website isn’t accessible to all drivers right now, according to Alva.

“All cleaning supplies and safety products are provided to drivers either for free or at cost — Lyft does not make a profit on PPE,” a Lyft spokesperson told OneZero in an email. “The Lyft Store is a resource to provide millions of drivers across the U.S. easy access to cleaning supplies and face masks that have consistently been difficult to find.”

The website isn’t accessible to all drivers right now, according to Alva. “My understanding is that they only sent it to very few drivers so far,” Alva told OneZero.

Gig Workers Rising, an advocacy group of app and platform workers, tweeted a screenshot of aerosolized hand sanitizer reportedly being sold by Lyft for $5.99. By comparison, the same product is sold by CVS for $7.99, and…

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Sarah Emerson
OneZero

Staff writer at OneZero covering social platforms, internet communities, and the spread of misinformation online. Previously: VICE