Pando

Your monthly helping of serious ridesharing allegations: July

By Nathaniel Mott , written on July 1, 2016

From The Sharing Economy Desk

Based on the sheer number of blog posts I had to sift through for this month’s wrap-up, you’d think that the heavens parted while Moses himself etched into stone “Uber drivers aren’t paid well!” and the world let loose a collective gasp before it rushed to spread the ridesharing gospel.

As if we didn’t know that Uber drivers aren’t making nearly as much money as the company likes to pretend. As if we didn’t know that the vehicle loans Uber helps its “driver-partners” get are a shit deal. And as if we didn’t know that Uber drivers are going to be more fucked than Sodom and Gomorrah as soon as Travis Kalanick and co. make enough self-driving cars to replace ‘em.

So ends our references to the Good Book, and so begins our hard look at the last month.

Uber drivers being awful to their passengers

A gay couple was kicked out of a vehicle, called a “homophobic slur,” and told that they would be going to hell after they kissed… on the way to a San Francisco Pride event over last weekend. Uber told ABC7 News that it was looking into the incident and that it “does not tolerate any form of discrimination.” The couple said that they don’t plan to use Uber to hail rides in the future.

The next incident is less cut-and-dry. On June 22 a passenger named CJ Yu was confronted by his Uber driver -- who was holding a rock -- after he refused to pay a larger tip for returning a forgotten iPhone. The driver, Medhanie Meshesha, claims that the passenger initially offered to pay $40 cash in exchange for having the phone returned only to change his mind later on.

On June 17, an Uber driver in London refused a ride to a blind woman because he didn’t want her guide dog to get in his £35,000 Mercedes. The woman was then charged a £5 cancellation fee. Uber said it was investigating the incident (its drivers are required to accept service animals) and that it had refunded the £5 cancellation fee.

Two days earlier an Uber driver in Oshawa turned himself in for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy. The driver is said to have picked up the child, touched the child’s genitals, and then sexually assaulting the child later in the ride. The driver was charged with “sexual assault, sexual interference and invitation to sexual touching” and police told CP24 they’re investigating further.

On June 8, a jury found former Uber driver Muhiddin Mire guilty of attempted murder. Mire attacked a musician in a London station by attempting to slit his throat with a bread knife while shouting that the attack was for “[his] Syrian brothers.” Mire was tased, arrested, and now faces a life sentence for the attack.

Just a few days earlier an Uber driver in Australia was recorded spewing homophobic, ethnic, and disabled slurs at a lesbian couple who booked a ride in his vehicle. Uber banned the driver from its platform. The company said it prohibits “discrimination against riders or drivers based on race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender identity, age or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal or state law.”

Finally, on June 3, a Pennsylvania woman said that her Uber driver pulled her out of his vehicle in an unfamiliar neighborhood after the two argued over the exact location of her destination. Uber told Action News that it does not “condone this type of behavior from drivers" and "immediately removed the driver's access” to its app. The woman filed a criminal complaint against the driver.

Uber drivers suffering from passengers, cabbies, and others

An Uber driver in Willoughby, Ohio was assaulted by a man outside a bar on June 29. The driver was hailed to pick up two women at the bar. When he found them arguing outside he tried to usher them into the vehicle. That’s when the other man punched the driver in the face and kicked his car. The assailant was charged with disorderly conduct, assault, and criminal damaging.

On June 23, a taxi driver in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia was arrested for taking part in a reported 50-person attack on an Uber driver and his two passengers. (The exact number of cabbies is disputed -- China Press claimed 50, while FMT News said this cabbie was acting on his own.)

Just a day earlier, an Uber driver was shot at a gas station in Chicago. A man is said to have run up to the driver, demand her keys, then shoot her in the leg before fleeing the scene. The woman survived the attack and a 38-year-old man was arrested by a police sergeant near the gas station.

Uber said on June 9 that drivers in Johannesburg, South Africa were being intimidated by cabbies in the wake of several attacks on its so-called partners. Uber told BusinessDay that it is “working with private security‚ the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department‚ the South African Police Service‚ and all other relevant stakeholders” as it attempts to resolve the dispute.

This one’s a blast from the past: In 2015, a NYPD detective named Patrick Cherry was filmed yelling at an Uber driver, Humayun Chaudry, for making a gesture indicating that Cherry should use a turn signal while attempting to park as he obstructed traffic. Chaudry is suing Cherry for an unknown amount because he has “barely been able to work since the incident happened.”

People got punched and we don’t know who started it

It’s not clear who started this one, but video footage shows a London black cab driver and an Uber driver fighting in the middle of the road on June 17. The two slammed each other against vehicles, punched each other, and were ultimately separated by a passerby.

The Evening Standard says the dispute started when the two collided while driving.

Lyft driver killed in Atlanta

Lyft driver, husband, and father Shahriar Zolfaghari was shot dead on June 1. It’s not clear what motivated the shooting, but police suspected that the killer might have been in Zolfaghari’s vehicle at some point. Zolfaghari is survived by his wife, Camila Wright, and one-year-old child.