Uber Technologies, Inc. is the target of a Houston federal class action lawsuit alleging that the popular rideshare service deprived drivers full compensation generated by gratuity.

The suit, filed Mar. 9 by driver Edison Zorilla, states that Uber has advertised to passengers that gratuity is included in the cost of its car service, but the defendant pays drivers “only a portion of such gratuity, if any is charged to the customer.”

“Moreover, based on Uber’s statements to customers that a gratuity is included in the fare charged, few if any customers actually leave tips for the drivers, which tips are customary in the transportation business and which tips the drivers would ordinarily receive but for Uber’s statements that gratuity is included within the fare,” the complaint says.

The suit further asserts “it is customary in the car-service industry for customers to leave approximately a 20 percent gratuity for drivers.”

“As a result of Uber’s conduct and actions in informing customers that there is no need to tip the drivers because gratuity is included in the cost of its service, but then refusing to remit the total proceeds of the gratuity to the drivers, Uber has deprived its drivers of payments to which they are entitled, and to which reasonable customers would have expected the drivers to receive,” the original petition states.

Uber is also accused of misclassifying drivers as independent contractors.

“Uber drivers are required to bear many of the expenses of their employment, including expenses for their vehicles, gas, additional insurance, as well as other expenses,” the suit says.

“California law requires employers to reimburse employees for such expenses, which are for the benefit of the employer and are necessary for the employees to perform their jobs.”

Consequently, Zorilla and the class members seek unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.

They are represented by attorney Kevin R. Michaels of the Law Offices of Kevin R. Michaels, P.C. in Houston.

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas Case No. 4:16-CV-00615

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