This month in serious ridesharing allegations
October was defined by a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research which revealed that many Uber and Lyft drivers are sexist.
The landmark study found that drivers in Seattle made African American passengers wait longer to be picked up, that Boston drivers often took female passengers along more expensive routes, and that drivers in both cities cancelled trips much more often if the prospective passenger had an African American-sounding name.
These findings are particularly damning because ride-hailing services are supposed to help people avoid these types of problems. Can’t hail a cab? Book an Uber. Don’t trust a taxi driver to get you home safe? Use Lyft. That’s the idea, anyway, but anyone who’s read these monthly wrap-ups knows that neither of these services are as safe as they seem. Read on for the latest examples of Uber and Lyft drivers or users causing problems for each other. (To put it lightly.)
Drivers behaving badly
We start with news that Uber settled a lawsuit from two unidentified female passengers who said their drivers had sexually assaulted them. Details about the settlement — how much Uber has agreed to pay, whether the company plans to improve background checks, and why it decided not to fight the suit like it did when it was filed in October 2015 — have not been released.
On November 5, a member of the Philippines’ government said an Uber driver harassed his 20-year-old daughter. The driver reportedly said the woman would “make a lot of babies” and asked her on a date. The official threatened to have the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board revoke Uber’s franchise if it doesn’t cooperate with his investigation into the matter.
On November 2 a 35-year-old Uber driver named Pedro Liborio-Anorve was arrested for grabbing a female passenger’s breast, leaving, then returning to her home later that evening. Uber barred Liborio-Anorve from its platform and said he had passed a background check in July.
Just a day earlier an Uber driver in London stabbed to death his partner of almost three decades. The driver is said to have searched for “can I survive stab in the eye” and “most painful place to stab someone” the afternoon before the incident. He then attempted to buy beer while still wearing the same blood-stained clothes he had on when he repeatedly stabbed his partner.
On October 28, an Uber driver in Bangalore was accused of kidnapping a 15-year-old male student. The driver was accused of taking the boy’s phone, threatening “dire consequences,” and asking him to hide in the space between the car’s front and back seats. It’s not clear if the driver actually planned to kidnap the child or if he was merely extorting him to get a higher fare.
A Maryland Uber driver named Westagne Pierre was arrested on October 28 for allegedly kidnapping and assaulting a 29-year-old female passenger picked up from a DC bar. Pierre was accused of taking the woman to a Budget Inn, carrying her up to a room, then using her credit card at a nearby 7-Eleven. He was charged with kidnapping, assault, and fraudulent card use.
A week earlier, in Toronto, an Uber driver was accused of asking a female passenger to pay her fare by giving him a blowjob. The woman’s phone died just before she entered the vehicle; when she said she didn’t know if her payment for the ride had gone through, the driver asked for oral sex, then offered to pay her after she declined. Uber removed the driver’s access to its service.
Also on October 21, an Uber driver in Liverpool was accused of driving away from a blind passenger when he saw that she had a guide dog. Uber said it was investigating the incident and that any driver who refuses to give a ride to someone because of a service animal will “permanently lose access to the Uber app and risks having their private hire licence taken away.”
On October 20, a 22-year-old Manhattan woman said she was raped by someone she believed was her Lyft driver. The woman is said to have booked a ride through the Lyft app when, shortly after, a man pulled up next to her and said he was her ride. He didn’t have anything showing an affiliation with Lyft. After she got in the vehicle he drove away, raped her, then dropped her off.
A day earlier, an Uber driver in Florida named Nimer Abdallah confessed to sexually assaulting a drunk passenger. Uber told WSVN that it banned Abdallah from driving for and using its app. An arrest affidavit says the victim was “intoxicated” when she and “a witness” ordered a ride; the victim “awoke the following morning and found her panties and pants had been removed.”
That same day a London woman said her Uber driver, Shahab Akbar, attacked her. She was left with a “lump on her head, bruising to her face, and a bloodied wrist and knuckles” from the assault, during which Akbar reportedly called her a “black cunt.” Akbar was fined, lost his private hire vehicle license, and sentenced to a 16-week prison sentence suspended for 24 months.
Also on October 19 an Uber driver in West Cairo was arrested on suspicion of attempting to steal a cellphone from a male passenger. The driver apparently took the phone, kicked the passenger out of the car, then started to drive away even though the passenger was still holding on to the vehicle. The passenger was bruised by a fall; passersby then stopped the driver from taking off.
On October 14, a Mountain View police parking assistant was allegedly assaulted by Uber driver Ghulam Mohammadi. The driver was accused of confronting the assistant over a parking ticket. He then backed into the assistant’s vehicle, pushing it back. Mohammadi was suspended from Uber’s platform during the investigation for potentially breaking its community guidelines.
On October 10, an Uber driver in the United Kingdom was accused of refusing service to a cancer survivor who had a laryngectomy that weakened her voice and requires her to pause while speaking. The driver is said to have hung up on the woman three times after denying her fare; then, after she got into the vehicle, of screaming at her to get out and grabbing her arm while doing so. Uber said that it was investigating the claims so it could “take the appropriate action.”
Finally, on October 9, an Uber driver in Toronto named Nephat Siziba was charged with sexual assault. Siziba was reportedly hailed by a female passenger in September; he’s said to have assaulted her while the ride was taking place. Uber told the Toronto Star that it “take[s] every safety incident very seriously and are committed to the safety of everyone who uses Uber.”
People harassing drivers
On October 19, an Uber driver was stabbed at the Sea-Tac airport. The victim and his assailant knew each other — both drove for Uber, and are said to have known each other for 20 years before that — and the motive behind the stabbing is unclear. The victim had to be placed on a breathing machine and undergo surgery as a result of being stabbed in the abdomen.
Just a day earlier, an Uber driver in Istanbul was attacked by a passenger. The driver apparently told the passenger not to smoke in his vehicle, and when he pressed the issue, the passenger got out of the car and started punching the driver in the head. The incident was captured by cameras installed in the vehicle — reports didn’t say if the assailant has been punished.
Finally, a couple and their Uber driver were harassed at the Penang International Airport on October 9. The trio was surrounded by limousine and taxi drivers who demanded that the passengers exit the vehicle; they started banging on the windows after the couple refused. Nobody was harmed during the incident and the Uber driver gave a statement to airport police.