NYC Delivery Workers Gain Right to Use Restaurant Bathrooms

The landmark bill is the first of its kind in the United States to address the widespread lack of bathroom access for gig workers.
September 23, 2021, 7:43pm
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New York City council members voted to pass a bill that guarantees bathroom access to food delivery workers in the city—a historic first of its kind in the United States that could inspire local lawmakers around the country. 

The New York City bill, sparked by a grassroots coalition of thousands of immigrant food delivery workers in the city, known as Los Deliveristas Unidos, guarantees food delivery workers legal access to bathrooms at restaurants where they are picking up food or beverages, except in cases where it would create health risks. 

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In the past, Motherboard has reported that gig workers and delivery drivers around the country have nowhere to pee on the job, have been banned by restaurants from using their restaurants, and under time constraints, often relieve themselves in bushes, bottles, and bags

In New York City, the nation’s largest food delivery market, food delivery workers delivery food on e-bikes for apps such as GrubHub, DoorDash, UberEats, and Relay. As independent contractors, they lack access to minimum wage benefits, overtime pay, worker's compensation, and the right to join unions. Neither customers nor employees, these gig workers also are not guaranteed access to bathrooms at the restaurants they pick up from.

The landmark bathroom bill passed along with a slate of bills that guarantee minimum pay for food delivery workers per trip (workers often net under minimum wage), limits on how far workers can be asked to deliver, and mechanisms to ensure that workers get paid their tips in full.  

"We all work with multiple apps," Gustavo Ajche, a food delivery worker and member of Los Deliveristas Unidos told Motherboard earlier this year. "Each app operates differently but they are the same in that they all try to profit without offering protections to workers." 

The bill was supported by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and at least one food delivery app, GrubHub.