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Lawsuit Alleges Uber Withheld Tips From Food Delivery Couriers

The complaint argues the delivery service fee counts as a tip

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A delivery person in New York is suing Uber alleging the rideshare and delivery app is withholding tips from couriers, according to Buzzfeed News. Per the complaint, courier Matthew B. Burgos claims that he and other workers for UberEats and UberRush are not being properly reimbursed for tips paid by app users.

“The vast majority of the ‘packages’ delivered through RUSH were food orders originating from GrubHub, Inc., and nearly all GrubHub deliveries received an on-line gratuity — none of which were passed onto the Couriers,” the lawsuit alleges. The complaint further argues that the $3.99 service fee charged by UberEats counts as gratuity and should be counted as part of delivery staff wages.

Buzzfeed reports that UberRush couriers are paid $3 per delivery plus approximately $4 per mile. UberEat’s New York app features a disclaimer at the bottom of its checkout page stating that “Tips are not included in the cost of your order. Tips are neither expected nor required.” However, by law if a service fee is not counted as gratuity, companies are required to provide “adequate notification” to customers in at least 12-point font with “ordinary language.”

Food delivery by bicycle is a fast-paced and sometimes dangerous job, as messengers revealed to Eater in September. In addition to arguing that Uber is withholding wages, the lawsuit alleges that the mobile app is endangering delivery staff by misclassifying them as independent contractors and circumventing New York laws requiring companies to provide bicycle couriers with safety equipment. Uber declined to comment on the litigation.

Some customers have expressed confusion about the lack of a tipping option through the UberEats app, especially when couriers request cash tips by direct message.

UberEats expanded its delivery service in March, however some have raised questions about the hefty fees the app charges participating restaurants (up to 30 percent of the check total). In a statement to Eater regarding the fees, Uber representatives described the charges “a modest service that in most cases is less than the cost of operating their own delivery service.”

As online ordering and delivery have grown in popularity, issues of payment for those services have increasingly been called into question. Pizza Hut, Yelp, and Postmates have all been sued for their questionable labor practices when dealing with delivery staff, causing some to argue that maybe we just shouldn’t order delivery at all.

UberEats And UberRush Couriers Complain They Don’t Get Their Tips [Buzzfeed]

Amazon, UberEats Charge Restaurants Hefty Delivery Fees [E]

Meet the Lawyer Challenging the Food-Delivery Industry [E]

Counterpoint: Don't Order Delivery [E]

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