The ride-sharing company argues that inherent racial biases in passengers will create inequalities among drivers if tipping is allowed.
When Uber and a coalition of drivers from Massachusetts and California agreed on a $100 million settlement last week over employee rights, news outlets, heralded the news as the beginning of the tip-included Uber era.
But as of Thursday, Uber is not giving into the in-app tipping option demanded by many of its contracted drivers. The ride-sharing service instead doubled down on its refusal, arguing that tipping is inherently unfair due to the passengers’ unconscious racial biases, according to The Boston Globe on Thursday.
Uber countered the Globe report by publishing its own report on Thursday morning, clarifying its position. Arguing equality in race and geography, the company pointed to academic studies that argue tipping skew favorably toward white workers, and that drivers may focus around wealthier neighborhoods to get larger tips than the city as a whole.
“Tipping is not included, nor is it expected or required. In fact riders tell us that one of the things they like most about Uber is that it’s hassle-free. And that’s how we intend to keep it,” writes Uber.
Uber also corrected many of the media reports anticipating tipping for Uber drivers. The settlement merely seeks to “clarify on its website and in communications with Drivers and riders that tips are not included on Uber’s platforms (except on UberTAXI), and that tipping is neither expected nor required” once the settlement is finalized.
Uber’s racial bias argument hinges upon a 2008 Cornell University report that found both black and white restaurant customers tipped the white servers better than their black counterparts, adding to a growing list of research that finds unconscious racial bias across the country in numerous industries. “Drivers know that they earn the same for doing the same trip, no matter who they are or where they’re from,” Uber argues.