Uber's Separate Bathroom Signs Spark Twitter Storm

06 Dec, 2019 Nancy Grover


Providence, RI (WorkersCompensation.com) – Uber does not refer to its workers who drive as ‘drivers,’ but rather ‘partners.’ But apparently they are not quite on an equal footing with corporate employees. While visiting a Rhode Island satellite office, a driver noticed side-by-side bathrooms; one marked ‘partners,’ and one ‘employees.’

Adding insult to injury was the fact that the driver/partner was inside an Uber ‘Greenlight Hub,’ which are described as special offices used for driver support and recruitment.

"Anyone else think it's strange that Uber views partners & employees as two separate classes of people?" tweeted Erika Betts.

"I feel the company's driver support system is laughable at best," Betts later told VICE.com. "The Greenlight Hub is the best option drivers have, despite the limited authority provided by the hub representatives."

Her tweets and comments to VICE.com prompted many others to comment, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Siri, show me what classism looks like,” the New York Democrat tweeted.  

Many other drivers also expressed their dissatisfaction over the corporate division. But at least one supported the separate bathrooms. "As a part-time driver and user when out of town, I think the employees are entitled to a clean bathroom," the Twitter user wrote. "Drivers aren't always the cleanest people on the planet. So, yes, I support that decision."

Through its own tweets Uber quickly apologized for the situation. “Hi Erika - I looked into this. This is not our policy and it's absolutely unacceptable. The signs are coming down today,” Uber employee Andrew Macdonald tweeted Wednesday evening

“That bathroom was also being used for employee storage, but that's not an excuse,” McDonald wrote in a subsequent post. “I don't believe this is the case anywhere else (and it's certainly not our design policy) but we're doing a full review now.”

The situation comes at a particularly inopportune time, as Uber is among the ‘gig economy’ companies battling to keep some of their workers classified as independent contractors instead of employees. California’s recently passed law would force companies like Uber to reclassify their workers, giving them benefits such as workers’ compensation coverage. The companies have vowed to fight the effort.

One commenter tweeted that this latest situation may help those who support the effort to reclassify drivers as employees.

"This is such an important piece of information to share," the person commented. "Drivers are definitely employees and @uber is intentionally misclassifying y’all to evade labor law."

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    About The Author

    • Nancy Grover

      Nancy Grover is a freelance writer having recently retired as the Director, Media Services for WorkersCompensation.com. She comes to our company with more than 35 years as a broadcast journalist and communications consultant. Grover’s specialties include insurance, workers’ compensation, financial services, substance abuse, healthcare and disability. For 12 years she served as the Program Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. A journalism/speech graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, Grover also holds an MBA from Palm Beach Atlantic University.

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