Over 50 concert workers killed on the job: NPR


Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her kitchen in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish to NPR


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Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her kitchen in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish to NPR

Back in August, Allyssa Lewis was talking on the phone, catching up with her big sister, Bella, and talking about meeting later in the day.

“I thought, ‘hey, it’s weekend, can you do my hair?’ She was like, yeah, I was going to Lift today, so depending on how I feel after that, I’ll tell you, “said Lewis, 23, who lives in Dallas, Tex.

But not long after that chat, Lewis got a call from a friend who said something bad had happened and that she needed to get to a certain address. She arrived in panic and was greeted by a disturbing scene: police cars around her sister’s car.

A random passenger had shot and killed Bella Lewis. She was 26.

“She was just a loving kind soul, just like she lit up the room with a smile. That kind of person,” Allyssa Lewis said. “We did not realize how much she held together on our family until she lost her.”


Allyssa Lewis outside her home in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

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Allyssa Lewis outside her home in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish to NPR

Lewis was one of more than 50 concert workers killed while driving for companies like Lyft, Uber and DoorDash since 2017, according to a new report from advocacy group Gig Workers Rising.

And while it is hard to know what companies could have done to prevent the deaths, labor advocates say there was a lack of support in the wake of the killings.

No death penalty and no right to sue

Unlike regular employees, the families of concert workers do not receive compensation, such as survivors’ benefits, even though they have been killed while on the job.

Catherine Fisk, an expert in labor law at the University of California, Berkeley, points out that concert-worker families also cannot access the justice system to file anything in the direction of an unlawful death case.

Companies like Lyft get drivers to sign what are known as forced arbitration agreements, which means they can not sue if drivers get hurt or something goes wrong while working.

“Companies have structured their relationships so that they are not responsible for the injuries their drivers experience during their employment,” Fisk said.

So even though Bella Lewis died while doing her job, her family paid for everything – from the funeral to funeral bills.

“They would not pay for anything,” said her sister Allyssa Lewis. “The driver’s window was somehow blown out. They did not repair it.”


Family photos of Allyssa Lewis ‘family and her sisters’ ashes in her living room in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

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Family photos of Allyssa Lewis ‘family and her sisters’ ashes in her living room in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish to NPR

Lyft sent its insurance company, Liberty Mutual, to see if it could provide any compensation, both Lewis and Lyft confirm. However, it could not pay for anything, including cleaning the blood from the car in which she was killed. This is because it amounted to less than the $ 2,500 deductible drivers pay out of pocket before the company’s insurance policy takes effect.

In a statement, Lyft said it is trying to ensure that all of its drivers are secure at all times and have access to tools in the app that they can use if they feel at risk.

Lyft did not answer questions about why it did not help the Lewis family cover their funeral expenses.

A spokeswoman for Lyft said the company tried to contact the Lewis family after the death, but it was unable to do so, yet Alyssa Lewis says she has never heard from the company.


Alyssa looks at memorial for her sister in her room in Richardson, Texas on April 4, 2022.

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Alyssa looks at memorial for her sister in her room in Richardson, Texas on April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish to NPR

“So I think the least they could have done was get out of the pocket for funeral expenses, kind of keep that burden off the family,” she said. “My family does not need a family that comes from money … My sister out here who does Lift to get the extra money.”

How dangerous is concert work?

While some data suggest that concert workers are more prone to fatal injuries at work than other types of workers, it is difficult to know exactly how dangerous it is to be a concert worker, in part because companies do not publish the numbers regularly.

Lift and Uber publish safety reports that reveal how many sexual assaults and other forms of violence, including murders, occur during a trip, but labor advocates say the reports should be more frequent and more detailed.

If traditional taxi driving is any guide, inviting strangers into a vehicle leads to harm.

Driving a taxi is one of the deadliest jobs in the country when it comes to the chance of homicide in the workplace, according to federal statistics. Taxi drivers only stand behind retailers, cashiers and police officers when it comes to the likelihood of being murdered while working. However, most taxi drivers are employees who benefit from employer-issued compensation in the event of an occupational injury or death.

Federal statistics show that there were 21 deaths of taxi drivers in 2020. But that number includes traffic accidents. The Gig worker report – which relied on news reports and GoFundMe campaigns – focused only on drivers killed by passengers or passers-by.

Meanwhile, Allyssa Lewis said she recently considered doing concert work to earn a little extra income. But then her mother intervened.

“I said, ‘Yeah, I’m considering making DoorDash today,” she said. “And she said,’ No, I’m not really happy that you do. I do not want you to do that. I’d rather give you money out of your pocket before you do ‘. “

Lewis decided she wanted to listen to her mother.


Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her living room in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish to NPR


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Zerb Mellish to NPR


Portrait of Allyssa Lewis in her living room in Richardson, Texas, April 4, 2022.

Zerb Mellish to NPR

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