To curb transmission of the COVID-19 virus last year, Uber and Lyft required drivers and passengers wear masks. In addition, both companies had verification policies in place. However, passengers are alleging discrimination for being refused rides due to false claims of them not wearing masks.
People of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and passengers with disabilities have long faced discrimination regarding rideshare services. In an interview with Buzzfeed, Charles Hossle, who performs as Sister Diana Fyre, discussed the most recent instance he felt discriminated against.
Hossle hailed an Uber after leaving an event with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The trip went as expected, but that all changed a few hours later when he got an email from Uber saying that his driver has reported him for not wearing a mask. However, Hossle had taken a selfie during the ride, which showed him wearing a mask. Despite challenging the claim, he was required to take a selfie to verify he was wearing a mask before his next ride. After the incident, Hossle speculated as to whether the false report was due to anti-LGBTQIA+ bias.
Another frequent user of Uber, Corey, who is Black, said, “It’s one of those things where it happens one or two times, you might think it’s coincidence. But around the fifth or sixth time, or even the second time in a day or a week, you start to realize.” They’ve lost track of the number of times they’ve been falsely reported for not wearing a mask. Corey is cautious when it comes to masks, so the false reports are disheartening.
Representatives for Uber and Lyft noted both are taking steps to manage fraudulent claims, but neither specified how many complaints about masks have been made or how they’re investigating the reports. A spokesperson from Lyft did say, however, that “While we encourage both riders and drivers to decline to accept or cancel rides if they ever feel unsafe, we also take action if we believe a driver or rider is using the penalty-free cancellation policy fraudulently.”
An Uber representative said, “The vast majority of trips have resulted in no reported mask issues. However, if we are made aware of an incident involving discrimination, we will investigate and take appropriate action, including removing access to Uber.”
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