In His Own Words: One Deliverista Speaks About Not Being Allowed To Use A Bathroom

Delivery workers are treated badly. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Delivery workers are treated badly. File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

A new City Council bill would require restaurants to let food delivery workers use the bathroom when they pick up food. The proposal follows a flashpoint meeting of an Upper West Side community board that rejected a bid to recommend that basic human decency. Given the importance of the issue, we asked delivery worker Edvin Escalante about what happens during a shift.

I saw signs in East Village, there’s clear signs outside that say if you want to use the restroom, they’ll charge you $3.

Just Salad is one of the restaurants that did it. It was a rainy day and I needed to use a restroom. I went there. I said, “Please, can I use your restroom?” They said, “No, it’s only it’s only for customers. I can’t give it to you because you’re not a worker of ours.”

I said, “But I’m delivering your food. I’m taking your food.” He said, “No, you’re taking the food for Uber, not for us.”

So they deny me the use of the bathroom and I had to explain, “Listen, I am getting food from your restaurant, not from Uber. So I need to use your restroom.”

Of course, it’s disrespectful, and devalues our labor. They need to understand that, you know, during the pandemic, it was me who was taking out all those deliveries. And the restaurants are also profiting from our labor. Everybody’s profiting from our labor, and the fact that they don’t want to give us access to the restrooms is so stressful.

It’s also not valuing what we do.

— As told to Dave Colon

After initial publication of this story, a spokesman for Just Salad said that denying delivery workers access to bathrooms “does not reflect our policy.”

“Couriers are allowed to use any of our restrooms that are open to our customers or public,” added the spokesman, Diego Diaz. “We value all delivery couriers we work with.”

In a request for clarification, Diaz added, “We are currently speaking with store staff at this location to investigate what happened. Regardless, we can use this as a learning moment to reiterate this policy at ALL locations. Genuinely thank you for bringing it to our attention.”