Are you supposed to tip Uber drivers? Uber just answered in a surprising way.

I believe "Uber" is the German word for "super-convenient rides when the subway shuts down."

Which is appropriate, even though I just made it up.

The once-underdog-startup-turned-transportation-empire has become a pretty dominant force in the world of people who need to get places, which has also made it the subject of several recent controversies.


Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

First, New York City taxi owners sued Uber, saying the ride-booking service was threatening their livelihoods. Then Uber drivers got angry and sued the company, citing unfair wages and lack of proper employment status.

The company has also come under fire for spying on a reporter, a sexist campaign in France that claimed to pair passengers with beautiful women, and a "negligent" driver onboarding process that many say has led to incidents of sexual assault.

Like that area under the passenger seat, Uber has never really been squeaky clean. And now, another controversy is putting the company back into the headlights.

Uber just announced that its app won't include an option for tipping. And there's a really interesting reason.

You see, tipping is a bit confusing when it comes to ride-booking.

While Uber's official policy is that passengers don't have to tip and there is no option that allows users to tip using the app, many Uber drivers say that policy has created the misconception that drivers get tips from the company. In fact, drivers receive only the ride's fare, minus a 20-25% cut that goes to Uber.

Photo Illustration by David Ramos/Getty Images.

As part of the settlement from the class action lawsuit brought by drivers back in 2015, Uber has agreed to clarify once and for all that tips are not included in drivers' fares.

However, the company says it's still not planning on adding a tip function to the app anytime soon.

Why?

Tipping is inherently unfair because of customers' subconscious racial biases, Uber says.

While most conversations about racial bias and tipping tend to focus on the likelihood of a customer to tip based on his or her race, Uber has done its homework on research that suggests the bias goes the other way, as well.

According to The Boston Globe, an Uber spokesperson cited a study done by two Cornell University professors that found "consumers of both races discriminate against black service providers by tipping them less than white service providers.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

A study published in the Yale Law Journal also found that after controlling for other variables, African-American cab drivers were tipped one-third less than white cab drivers on average. It also suggested that government-mandated tipping would directly reduce the racial tipping bias and might even reduce the tendency of drivers to refuse African-American customers.

Some have argued that race doesn't factor into how customers tip. But the data doesn't back them up.

Kiesha Seaton, an Uber driver who is black, told the Globe that she doesn't think race has anything to do with the tips she does or does not receive, saying, “It’s all about the service you provide, and if you provide top-notch, five-star service, you expect to be compensated as such." She went on to cite a large tip she once received as evidence, while admitting that she’s not sure how the experience would have played out if she were white.

Still, other Uber drivers have argued that everything from the model of the car they drive to their physical appearance can affect their tips.

In the service industry, there are obviously innumerable variables that can affect tipping behavior, ranging from the general mood of the customer or server to their economic status to the widely misunderstood and confusing language of a tipping policy.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

In a perfect system, Uber wouldn't need a tipping feature.

The company would simply pay their drivers a fair living wage and negate the need for the customer to provide extra in the form of tips.

Joe's Crab Shack recently became the first major restaurant chain to test out that concept. The restaurant raised its servers' starting wage to $14 an hour (from just over $2) and banned tipping. CEO Ray Blanchette argued that it would increase employee retention and guarantee that servers take home a consistent paycheck even if they work on slow nights — something that could be financially devastating to a server under the old model.

If Uber wants to make its employees happy, clear up all the tipping confusion, and account for unfortunate racial discrepancies, it might want to try paying its drivers a living wage.

Frankly, if Uber can afford to deliver kittens to your door once a year, it can probably afford to treat its workers fairly.

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It was a mere three weeks ago that President Biden announced that the U.S. would have enough vaccine supply to cover every adult American by the end of July. At the time, that was good news.

Today, he's bumped up that date by two full months.

That's great news.

In his announcement to the nation, Biden outlined the updated process for getting the country immunized against COVID-19.


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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

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It's amazing to consider just how quickly the world has changed over the past 11 months. If you were to have told someone in February 2020 that the entire country would be on some form of lockdown, nearly everyone would be wearing a mask, and half a million people were going to die due to a virus, no one would have believed you.

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PPE masks were the last thing on Leah Holland of Georgetown, Kentucky's mind on March 4, 2020, when she got a tattoo inspired by the words of a close friend.

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The two also shared a strong physical resemblance and matching tattoos of the flag of the Dominican Republic. They had a bond that was so unique, even their coworkers thought there must be something more happening.

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