Uber is facing a new legal mess that doesn’t quite fit the David-and-Goliath storyline: Drivers say the startup is stealing their tips. … On the website, Uber explains that its taxi service adds a 20 percent tip for drivers; the black-car service offered by Uber doesn’t discuss tips at all. In the past, the startup has explained that tips are calculated as part of its fares, but the current policy isn’t completely clear. Uber’s message to passengers is that no additional tip is needed beyond the fare—and the company explicitly prohibits drivers from taking cash tips directly from passengers.
… “Really what Uber is trying to do is keep prices artificially low by having a price and saying you don’t have to tip on top of this,” says Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. “It’s a way for them to compete unfairly by lying to the customer.” She is a specialist of sorts in the targeted area of gratuity-related labor law, having represented airline employees, dancers at strip clubs, and restaurant workers who have had their tips skimmed by employers in various ways.