A former Uber driver is suing the company for its rating system that he claims can be influenced by customers who base their judgment on the color of a driver’s skin.
Prone to bias: In the complaint filed by Thomas Liu on Monday, he alleged that Uber Technologies Inc. violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act for firing minority drivers based on low ratings given by racist and biased passengers, Fortune reported.
- Liu reportedly filed the federal lawsuit in San Francisco federal court on behalf of other minority drivers who were fired due to low ratings.
- According to Liu, he has experienced being discriminated against for being Asian while driving for Uber, with some customers outright canceling upon seeing his photo.
- Uber allegedly fired Liu in October 2015 after his customer rating fell below the minimum average of 4.6.
- Liu had initially filed a complaint on the same issue in the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2016 and was authorized to bring the allegations to court in August.
How Uber ratings work: The lawsuit points out that under the current system, Uber lets customers rate drivers on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, and then eventually fires the drivers with low average ratings.
- Liu noted in his complaint that the ride-hailing company is aware of how passengers can use the evaluation system to discriminate against drivers.
- He said that despite this, Uber “continued to use this system, thus making it liable for intentional race discrimination.”
- In a statement to Fortune, Uber spokesperson Matt Kallman argued that the company “has greatly reduced bias for both drivers and riders, who now have fairer, more equitable access to work and transportation than ever before.”
The lawsuit comes as the election on Proposition 22 nears. If passed, the proposition will exempt app-based transportation and delivery companies, like Uber and Lyft, from providing benefits to certain drivers by classifying them as “independent contractors.”
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