Lyft and Uber Drivers Accused of Refusing Asian Riders Because of Coronavirus Fear

Young student sitting on the backseat of a taxi. She's checking her smartphone for the street name.

The coronavirus outbreak has apparently made people more brazen in their discrimination against people of Asian descent as Lyft and Uber passengers are reportedly being treated unfairly by racist drivers.

In recent weeks, a growing number of drivers from the ride-sharing platforms are reportedly using the novel coronavirus as an excuse to refuse Asian passengers, reports CNBC.

In a closed Facebook group that has over 12,000 Lyft and Uber drivers, one member revealed that drivers are constantly writing posts about not wanting to pick up riders of Asian descent due to safety concerns. The unnamed member shared that the virus is mentioned in at least five posts daily in the group.

Prejudice toward Asian passengers can also be found on Twitter, where riders and drivers post tweets about their reluctance to share a car ride with an Asian person.

In one case, a passenger named Lilian Wang called a Lyft at the San Francisco airport. She was initially unable to enter the car as the driver refused to unlock the door for her. Wang was only allowed to ride when her friend, a White CNBC producer, claimed that it was her who requested the ride.

Inside the car, the driver asked the two women if they were returning from China. When they responded they were returning from Mexico, the driver reportedly said, “OK, so not China.” The driver then admitted to them that he had turned down rider requests from users with “Chinese-sounding names.”

Asked for comment about the incident, Lyft spokesperson Dana Davis stated that the company takes “any allegation of discrimination very seriously,” noting that the company is also “monitoring official updates on the global outbreak closely, and taking our cues from international and domestic public health experts.”

In Melbourne, Australia, an Uber driver blatantly refused to pick up a Malaysian passenger out of fear of getting infected by the coronavirus, according to the New Daily.

After noticing that the car ran past him, the man sent his driver a message telling him he was standing in front of a car wash.

“OK, got it!” the driver wrote back. “I don’t need coronavirus (sic).”

Like Lyft, Uber has also stated that they have anti-discrimination policies in place. It also noted that any rider or driver found to be in violation of such policies will be removed from the system.

Feature Image via Robert Pastryk

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