San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego city attorneys are all digging into Uber’s alleged discriminatory practices with trans and non-binary people who try to sign up for the platform, because the bots feel their names and faces do not adequately match their driver's licenses.
Rideshare giant Uber is one of those tech companies that really wants you to know that they had a float in the Pride parade, but their everyday practices may not live up to their rainbow emojis and hashtags. The latest evidence of that is a December report from the Los Angeles Times that Uber was blocking the accounts of transgender drivers, because their current names and faces did not match what appears on their driver’s licenses to the bots’ satisfaction.
Uber has promised to look into this. But according to a legal inquiry from Los Angeles city attorney Michael Feuer, “Transgender drivers continued to report being blocked after Uber erroneously deemed their post-transition photographs to be fraudulent; others report days-long haggling with Uber agents about name and photo changes instead of the streamlined process Uber promised.”
Now that legal inquiry includes more than just Los Angeles. NBC Bay Area reports that SF City Attorney David Chiu has joined in on the legal inquiry of Uber, as has San Diego city attorney Mara Elliott.
“Transgender and gender nonconforming drivers should not have to put themselves in danger or navigate a bureaucratic nightmare just to make a living,” Chiu said in a statement. “Shielding drivers from workplace violence and ensuring equal opportunity to work are non-negotiable. We look forward to engaging with Uber to ensure that the company has adequate protections and policies in place for transgender drivers.”
This is not a lawsuit against Uber, it’s just a letter from three major city attorneys making it clear that they are definitely poking into this. The letter demands that Uber “describe and provide all policies and procedures that relate to the ability of drivers who identify as transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming to display their chosen photo and name to the public.” There is no timeline for response, nor penalty threatened.
And it’s probably the kind of veiled threat meant to make most reasonable companies realize they ought to clean up their act in regards to a certain policy or practice. But we’re talking about Uber here, so we’ll see how this plays out.
Image: Uber blog