Postmates Sued Over Failure to Pay Adequate Wages

Plaintiff Edmond Mesachi filed a complaint against food delivery service Postmates on May 4 alleging wage theft. Mesachi claimed that under California law, Postmates’ delivery workers should be considered employees. “Postmates, like all employers, owes its employees minimum wage, overtime pay, sick leave, and a host of other benefits.” However, the plaintiff claims that Postmates pays its delivery workers “less than it should and offers no benefits.” Mesachi states he has worked for Postmates since 2016 and made hundreds of deliveries; He claims that “[f]or his effort, he has been underpaid and denied the other benefits due to him under law.”

Postmates pays its drivers a rate per pickup, rate per drop off, rate per minute, and rate per mile driven, according to the complaint. Postmates only counts the time between accepting a job and delivery to the consumer, it does not pay workers for their time waiting for a delivery job. Postmates also only count the distance between the merchant or vendor and the consumer, therefore, drivers are not compensated for mileage to get to the merchant. The plaintiff added that Postmates also does not compensate workers for overtime. “Postmates also refuses to offer sick time or meal and rest breaks. Postmates also fails to provide wage statements to workers from which they can discern their gross and net wages, and the hourly rate at which they are being compensated for their work.”

The plaintiff noted a number of characteristics that indicate that Postmates’ drivers should not be considered independent contractors. Complaints or praises of drivers goes to Postmates, not the worker; consumers cannot request a particular worker to make their deliveries nor can a worker request to deliver all orders for a particular consumer. Fleet workers do not set the prices, Postmates does; workers “make no capital investment in material or equipment” and being a Postmates worker “takes no specialized skill or unique license. Therefore, “[a] Fleet member’s only choice is to deliver the orders offered to them by Postmates for a wage set by Postmates – or not to work at all.”

The fleet members agree to terms in their agreement with Postmates, which “repeatedly claims that the workers agree that they are independent contractors.” The agreement states that workers can hire subcontractors or their own employees to make deliveries for them, plaintiff states that “[t]his is, of course, preposterous. The meager wages paid by Postmates are too small for a single worker, much less to split between two workers.” However, the plaintiff claims that this “misrepresents the nature of Postmates’ business. In its consumer-facing and marketing communications, Postmates is all about delivering goods for consumers. But a delivery company is the last thing Postmates wishes to be in court, so in its agreement, Postmates says instead that it ‘provides and maintains an online marketplace and mobile platform.’” Mesachi claimed that the agreement is false and misleading.

Mesachi alleged that Postmates does not provide a record of how many miles he drove or total hours worked for Postmates, nor does Postmates make this information available. As a result, he said he is unsure how much Postmates owes him.

Mesachi first tried to arbitrate as required in his agreement with Postmates, his arbitration request was denied by the American Arbitration Association, citing “past misconduct by Postmates.” Postmates has not responded to Mesachi or AAA’s notice. Consequently, Mesachi claims that Postmates “breached its arbitration agreement and waived its right to arbitrate.” Postmates is currently fighting a suit that would require it to arbitrate over ten thousand cases individually.

Mesachi alleged that Postmates has failed to pay minimum wage and overtime wages under the Fair Labor Standards Act and California state law; failed to pay minimum wage and provide sick time benefits under Los Angeles Municipal Code; failed to pay minimum wage under Los Angeles County Code; failed to reimburse business expenses under California state Law; failed to provide a compliant wage statement under California state law, and engaged in unfair business practices under California state law.

The suit is filed in the Northern District of California. Mesachi is represented by the Law Office of Thomas R. Kayes. The complaint comes days after the state of California sued gig economy pioneers Uber and Lyft for violations of California’s AB 5 statute.