Bird’s Use Of Contract Labor To Maintain Scooter Fleet Raises Safety Concerns

Since electric scooters became all the rage a couple of years ago, users and employees alike have experienced many issues. Braking issues with the rented scooters have caused users to suffer injuries ranging from bruises and lacerations to broken bones, jaw injuries and head trauma. Some people have even died while riding Bird and Lime scooters.

Bird contractors and employees have witnessed these safety concerns firsthand.  One person was even fired from Bird for raising concerns that the scooters were compromising the safety of the public. The man, a former mechanic and scooter charger, has filed a lawsuit against Bird, claiming wrongful termination, retaliation, and defamation.

While Bird claims that safety is the company’s top priority, internal communications state the opposite. Late last year, Bird issued a memo to employees stating that Bird scooters with missing screws, missing grips, loose handlebars, and necks, and broken reflectors were considered “not damaged” and safe for public use.

Bird’s Exploitation of the Gig Economy

Many of the safety concerns Bird users and employees have witnessed can be traced to the company’s use of independent contractors. Bird has been known to hire contractors – even high school students – to go around various cities, find scooters and charge them. Some made several hundred dollars a day charging scooters.

Even scooter mechanics were hired as independent contractors. They were paid $15 per scooter. Experienced mechanics found the process raised safety concerns because the contractors were not tested on their skills. Bird never supplied spare parts. Nobody checked the mechanics’ work. Hired contractors were simply told to ignore certain safety issues.

The safety concerns extended to the workers. If a mechanic was injured, they were on their own. Bird offers no medical benefits for mechanics, so injured workers would have to pay for their own medical care.

By taking advantage of the growing gig economy, Bird has been able to expand its services to other cities. This growth, however, has come at a huge cost. In the process, Bird has compromised its safety, leading to injured users and lawsuits.

Due to these ongoing issues, Bird quit using independent contractors for its mechanic positions in February. The company has decided to focus on in-house repair services.

While this is a change in the right direction, safety needs to continue to be a constant focus. Lime, a competitor, does in-house scooter maintenance and still struggles with safety issues.

The number of Bird & Lime-S scooter accidents in California has soared since 2018. Causes of scooter accidents include those caused by defective maintenance, riders’ reckless usage of the scooters as well as accidents with other motor vehicles. The attorneys of Nadrich & Cohen have seen a significant increase in the number of callers seeking assistance for rented scooter accidents.

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