The latest chapter in the ridesharing soap opera that continues to play out across the U.S. (and notably California, where a court just ruled that drivers must be made employees, and not contractors) has arrived in the form of a U.S. Civil Rights Act lawsuit filed against Uber for – wait for it – firing drivers based on how they are rated by customers for doing their job.
Yes, in today’s “woke” environment, not performing your job well is no longer an acceptable means for being terminated. That’s why former driver Thomas Liu is suing the ride-hailing giant, claiming that there’s bias in the way the company fires minority drivers – which is the same way it fires all drivers: based on customer ratings of their service.
Also known as: exactly how anyone manages any customer service-oriented business.
“Uber is aware that passengers are prone to discriminate in their evaluation of drivers, but Uber has continued to use this system, thus making it liable for intentional race discrimination,” Liu said in a lawsuit, according to Bloomberg.
It’s a claim he brought four years ago to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who did nothing about it other than to tell Liu to try his hand pursuing the claims in court. So, that’s exactly what he is doing.
Uber is on the record as calling the lawsuit “flimsy” and the company said that it “has greatly reduced bias for both drivers and riders, who now have fairer, more equitable access to work and transportation than ever before.”
We have to side with Uber on this one. The company also argues that since its drivers are independent contractors (but for California) that they aren’t even covered by workplace protections of the Civil Rights Act.
Liu’s lawsuit points out that Uber’s policy is (gasp) to deactivate drivers who have a rating the company deems to be unsatisfactory. Liu claims he faced bias while driving in San Diego, including customers canceling when they saw his photo (How do you prove this? And also, that doesn’t affect a driver’s rating…) or “asking in an unfriendly manner” where he was from.
He claims he was terminated because his rating fell under the company’s 4.6 minimum. Liu argued the minimum “automatically deactivated anyone who looked different, dressed different, talked different, or acted different.” We can’t help but wonder if Liu spent most of his rides disgruntled and, if so, if that could explain why his rating was so low.
“Customer discrimination is not an excuse for employers to discriminate,” Liu’s lawyer said, seemingly unaware that customers “discriminate” by where they get the best service in all industries across the country. It’s called capitalism.
We look forward to the court tossing this one out.