Uber once again has a PR disaster on its hands after one of its workers kicked two women out of a car for being gay.
The ridesharing company’s latest incident took place in New Jersey. Kristin Michele and her girlfriend, Jenn Mangan, hailed a car to attend a concert and were only a few minutes into their ride when Michele gave Mangan a chaste kiss on the cheek.
The driver, identified as Cynthia, objected to the kiss and pulled over to kick them out, justifying her actions by telling them that she’s a Christian.
“I won’t have that in my car,” Michele says Cynthia told them. “I asked what she was referring to. She said, ‘You need to get out of my car because you are gay.'”
It’s quite clear that the incident was triggered by bias. Michele directly asked the driver in her video, “Are you kicking me out because I’m gay?” Cynthia responded, “Yes, I am.” After they were kicked out, Michele and Mangan walked to a train station and took transit to the concert.
After the couple posted the video on Facebook, it gained traction and eventually media attention.
“Please sue Uber,” wrote one commenter on Facebook.
“Please go after uber and have this woman suspended from driving for them forever,” wrote another.
“I use to drive with Uber but the company as a whole sucks,” commented another person. “I drive for Lyft now. If you ever need a ride again contact me personally … I’ll make sure you have the exact opposite experience”
In a statement, Uber said that they’d removed the driver from the app.
“Uber does not tolerate discrimination in any form,” the company wrote. “We removed the driver’s access to the app as soon as we were made aware of this incident.”
This isn’t the first time an Uber driver has run afoul of the company’s nondiscrimination policies. In 2016, an Uber driver threatened to drag two lesbian customers from his car in a lengthy anti-gay rant. In June 2018, a lesbian couple was ejected from a car for after a quick kiss. A Washington, D.C. driver kicked a passenger out for “sounding gay” that same year.
In a particularly harrowing incident, a driver in Manhattan threatened two men who kissed in the backseat, telling them they would be killed in his home country and then dragging one of the passengers down the street when he tried to escape.
And in 2016, a driver pulled a gun on two passengers after one of them flirted with him.
Following the 2018 incidents, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi apologized, saying: “This is an open society, and Uber is a platform that is available to anybody regardless of your background, your orientation, and that is sacred to us. It’s an unfortunate circumstance.”
Since then, the company has attempted to train drivers on acceptable treatment of LGBTQ+ customers. One resource guide on the site explains the letters of the acronym, how to avoid unconscious assumptions, and reminds drivers to respect boundaries.
Although the company has a robust affinity group for LGBTQ+ employees and provides sensitivity training and inclusivity guidelines for full-time workers, Uber has steadfastly refused to extend employee benefits to its drivers.