Uber taken to tribunal for ‘putting female drivers at risk’

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Sep 27, 2017
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Uber drivers cannot cancel a journey if the passenger becomes aggressive

Jeff Chiu/AP

A female Uber driver in London has issued discrimination proceedings against the company, claiming that its practices put women at risk. 

The 44-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, is bringing the claim at an employment tribunal. She claims that Uber drivers do not know a passenger’s destination until they are already in the car, with no option of cancelling if the passenger wants to go to a remote or unsafe area. 

If a passenger becomes aggressive, the driver cannot cancel the journey and faces a customer complaint and low rating, which could affect future work, if they ask the passenger to leave.

The claim, lodged at the Central London Employment Tribunal, argues that Uber should allow drivers to challenge complaints and low ratings so that drivers do not risk losing their jobs if they ask aggressive passengers to leave their cars.

Maria Ludkin, legal director at the GMB union, which is backing the woman’s claim, said: “Once again we have a member with serious concerns about Uber’s systems and practices, which place the basic safety needs of the worker as secondary to the imposition of a rigid and purely profit-based model.

“We look forward to allowing the courts to examine whether this aspect of their model discriminates against women drivers.”

Nigel Mackay, a lawyer at the London law firm Leigh Day, which is representing the driver, said: “Uber’s policies do not do enough to protect female drivers. In particular, if a driver is faced with the threat of assault from a passenger and asks him to leave, she risks complaints and low ratings, with no right of reply, and ultimately may lose her job as a result.

“Our client no longer feels able to drive in the evening or at night-time, suffering a loss of income as a result.

“We believe that Uber should not only ensure the safety of its passengers but also all of its drivers, and provide as much protection as possible to women to ensure that they are not vulnerable to assaults from passengers.”

Last week Transport for London decided not to reissue Uber’s licence to work in the capital when it expires on Saturday. Uber plans to appeal and can operate until all options are exhausted.

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