Amiel L. Wade
December 4, 2015
Los Angeles (December 3, 2015, 11:15 PM ET) — A gay passenger who alleged that an Uber driver kicked him and his date out of the car after they shared a kiss lobbed a civil rights suit against the ride-hailing company on Wednesday in California state court, blaming the company for the “negligent hiring” of the driver.
In the latest in a long line of legal actions taken against the company over alleged misbehavior of its drivers, San Francisco resident Roman Scanlon claims that after he and his date shared a “brief closed-mouth kiss” during an Uber ride in Los Angeles in March, the driver became angry and yelled obscenities and anti-gay slurs at the couple and ordered them out of the vehicle, saying he would drive them no further.
Scanlon, who was still charged about $8 for the aborted ride, said he was discriminated against based on his sexual orientation and therefore denied free and equal access to services provided by Uber Technologies Inc., a violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, according to the 10-page complaint.
By not exercising reasonable care in hiring or training the driver — who is not named as a defendant and is cited anonymously in the suit — Uber is liable for negligent hiring, supervision and retention, the suit says. Uber considers its drivers contractors, not employees.
In addition, Scanlon claims that Uber committed unfair business practices under state law by falsely representing that it supports gay rights on its website, in customer emails and in the media.
“Although Uber represents to the public that it is committed to safeguarding LGBT rights and to principles of equality, Uber refuses to implement the types of policies, procedures, and training protocols reasonably required to safeguard against the type of discrimination experienced by plaintiff,” according to the complaint.
A representative for Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Thursday.
In other recent litigation against the company, two women who allege they were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers launched a suit in October in California federal court accusing the company of sacrificing strict background checks and other safety measures in favor of higher profits.