Uber and Lyft Both Sued for Allegedly Ripping Off Drivers

In the future, you'll be able to call a limousine, whenever you want one! That will be fun—but perhaps not so fun is the quiet abolition of tipping that some smartphone chauffeurs claim Lyft and Uber are pushing. Now the dispute is heading to court.

SF Weekly reports the two popular transit startups are facing lawsuits from drivers who say they're being screwed:

The latest lawsuit, filed Tuesday, argues that drivers...are in fact employees of Lyft, which means they warrant protection from the California Labor Code. Thus, Lyft should be prohibited from skimming 20 percent from drivers' gratuities, and it should provide wage statements that accurately reflect the number of hours that each driver worked.

Uber works the same way, taking a cut of a total fare.

The draw of the Lyft and Uber experience is its ease: you press a couple of buttons, no need to ever take out your credit card or cash. It's like Seamless, but for wheels—though unlike Seamless, no gratuity is included in what you pay. Moreover, it's actively discouraged. Just look at instructions from the help sections of both companies:

Being Uber means there is no need to tip.

Uber is not a transportation provider. No need to tip.

Once a Lyft is complete, the Lyft app will display a donation suggestion amount for the ride. The donation screen gives you the option of adjusting the amount by presenting “+” and “-” buttons for you to tap. Many passengers choose to increase the suggested donation in order to reward a great driver. Simply tap the pencil icon on the donation screen, then hit the “+” button to add dollar amounts. Please use this option and do not offer your drivers cash tips.

Emphasis added. The convenience for riders is clear, but for the people doing the driving—the "work," you might say!—it's murky, and means lost money. Uber and Lyft wipe their hands of any legal responsibility by calling themselves technology companies rather than car services, and classifying drivers as contractors rather than employees entitled to tips. Both companies say the legal allegations are entirely without merit, as well—but there's no doubt that each time we tap a ride, our expectations are being shaped just a bit