Uber this week announced that it has updated its driver “code of conduct.” Part of that code includes the provision that “it is unacceptable to refuse to provide or accept services based on a person’s race.”
Some African-Americans have praised Uber and other ride-share services as long-awaited solutions to cab-hailing discrimination. With a ride-share app, nobody knows you're black.
Until they come to pick you up, that is. One Los Angeles area ride-share customer says an UberX driver recently left him waiting at the curb after discovering, through a window, that he is African-American.
It happened after a 12-hour workday in late February, says Jerome Murdock, a 37-year-old hypnotherapist.
It was late and, as he sometimes did, Murdock hailed the ride through his smartphone and then waited at a somewhat desolate curb outside his office in Glendale, he said.
Here's how Murdock describes what happened:
When they came to pick me up, the Uber driver waited until I was three feet from the car, then pulled up and away from me. He pulled half a block away and then called me. I answered the phone and the driver asked if it was me. When I responded yes, the driver (whose name was ironically “Shady”) rolled down his window and waved at me to confirm that it was me. When I waved back, he rolled up his window and drove off.
Uber questions whether we'll ever know if this was about race. That's actually, technically, a fair observation. Maybe the driver had to run to the hospital last-minute as a result of some festering malady left untreated by his lack of health insurance.
But the sting for a black man in a world where hailing a cab is still a crap shoot was real.
Murdock says he wasn't happy with Uber's response to his complaint, either. A company rep told him via email, “I've gone ahead and shared this to our driver operations team so they can follow up with your driver regarding your concern.”
That's all. A serious allegations of discrimination begat a “follow up with your driver.”
“I started switching over to Lyft after that,” he told us.
After we contacted Uber about Murdock's story, spokeswoman Taylor Patterson sent us this statement:
The Uber app is built to encourage transparency and accountability. We encourage feedback on every ride in order to maintain a safe and respectful environment for riders and drivers in more than 200 cities around the world.