In January 2020, Uber implemented a new policy allowing drivers in California to see the destination of a ride before deciding whether or not to take the business. While this was done as an effort to strengthen the argument that workers are independent and should not get employee benefits, it’s now being used by some drivers as a way to avoid certain communities.
While Uber claims they have not seen an overall pattern of drivers avoiding disadvantaged areas, they informed the Financial Times they are remaining vigilant and taking proactive steps to ensure all passengers receive the services they request.
According to an Uber spokesperson, “Over the years, ride-sharing has improved access to transportation for many people who previously struggled to get a reliable ride to and from their homes, simply because of where they lived. That’s why we are closely monitoring the impact of recent product changes we’ve made in California due to a new state law.”
In response to the concerns of discrimination, Uber has warned some drivers that they can be kicked off the platform for avoiding customers in disadvantaged areas. Currently, the company has confirmed warning an unspecified number of drivers against avoiding areas that are “largely comprised of low-income residents, minority residents and/or other residents who may belong to certain disadvantaged communities.”
Outside of California, drivers who are cited for rejecting too many trips are at risk of losing certain perks provided by the company, like discounts on roadside breakdown assistance.
One driver in California, Eihab Amari, disputed the discrimination warning he received from Uber, claiming fault in the algorithm’s determination. He claims rejecting rides because of their length: “I did a bunch of rides and then rejected two—because they were really short trips. The amount of money that I’m going to make from those trips is not going to be worth the amount of time I’m going to spend on it.”
While Uber did not offer a comment in regard to Amari’s situation, chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi did note the level of service in California has gotten worse as a result of company changes. Wait times and prices in California have increased when compared to the rest of the country.
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against by an Uber driver, you may be able to hold the driver or company responsible for their actions. While this is generally uncharted territory, our lawyers can look into your situation and provide you with legal advice to help you decide how best to proceed based on your unique circumstances. Contact us today for more information.