California cities press Uber over practices of transgender drivers

Lawyers for the city of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have questioned Uber’s treatment of transgender drivers and demanded the company explain how it verifies the accounts of transgender drivers, a move prompted by a Times story that illustrated the hurdles drivers faced during the process.

Uber’s conduct may violate several anti-discrimination and workplace safety laws that city prosecutors have authority to enforce, the attorneys said in a letter to Uber. The letter and a statement from the office of Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer referenced the Dec. 10 article published in The Times, which was based on the accounts of transgender and non-binary people, some of whom lost their work as drivers for Uber or could not obtain approval to register.

For memory :

4:39 p.m. February 3, 2022An earlier version of this story said an Uber spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Times had not contacted the spokesperson when the article was published; Uber’s statement is now history.

“Uber tries to speak a good game when it comes to LGBTQ equality, but we have serious questions about whether it’s failing transgender drivers,” Feuer said in a statement. “We intend to find out whether the reported incidents are isolated errors or part of a larger pattern that prevents some transgender drivers from accessing ridesharing opportunities.”

The Times found that Uber sometimes permanently bars transgender and non-binary people from working for the platform by treating their photos and documents as fraudulent and suspending their accounts. Multiple efforts by drivers to resolve issues with the company were unsuccessful: Stranded applicants told The Times they had spent hours texting and calling the company’s help desk to no avail.

“We are writing to inform Uber of the potential legal ramifications of maintaining policies that endanger or disadvantage transgender, non-binary, or gender-nonconforming drivers, and to give Uber an opportunity to explain any corrective action it has taken. implemented following these revelations of mistreatment,” reads the letter to the company.

San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu said in the statement that protecting drivers from workplace violence and ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace is “non-negotiable.”

San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott called the treatment of drivers detailed in the Times report “unconscionable.”

An Uber spokesperson said the company is reviewing the city attorneys’ letter and will continue to work together “to ensure our platform is an inclusive experience for everyone.”

“We recognize that for transgender and non-binary drivers and delivery people, the name and photo on their ID does not always reflect their true identity, and we take their concerns seriously,” the spokesperson said in a statement. communicated.

Uber previously said it was working to reactivate accounts the Times inquired about.

The Times reports recounted the experiences of several drivers who were blocked when they attempted to update their profile information, prompted by Uber June Pride month initiatives aimed at improving the experience of LGBTQ people using the platform. -form.

The company also said it worked with the National Center for Transgender Equality on a process for drivers to display the name of their choice in the app and trained staff to handle related requests.

Drivers interviewed by The Times also recounted the hurdles UberEats faced when trying to display their chosen name instead of their “dead name” – the birth name they no longer use after gender transition. – which raises security issues.

Drivers continued to face similar issues after Uber promised to undertake a review and correct issues related to disabling transgender drivers in a July 2021 letter to the ACLU of Southern California, a reported the Times.

“Drivers shouldn’t have to put themselves in harm’s way or navigate a bureaucratic nightmare just to earn a living,” Chiu said in the statement.

Bernard P. Love