Yet another young woman has come forward to claim that a male driver working for Uber was inappropriate during a late-night ride home from a club.
The woman in her mid-20s brought her story to L.A. Weekly because, she says, “I just want people to know.” She asked that we not use her name.
She claims the UberX driver touched her face, asked her to go to the beach, and kept an interior light on, possibly to look at her, during an early Saturday trip from a friend's place to her home in Brentwood:
It happened between 1:09 and 1:24 a.m., according to an Uber receipt the claimant provided. The woman and a friend had shared a ride from the West Hollywood club Bootsybellows to her friend's house in Beverly Hills.
On that first leg, the woman alleged in an email to Uber, the driver took “wrong turns that lengthened our trip.”
The driver allegedly missed so many turns, she said, that her friend had to “start dictating – take this turn, you just missed that one, take this turn, you just missed again.”
And after her friend was dropped off, and the driver and our claimant were alone, things really got creepy, she said. He asked her sit in front, and she refused at first. However, considering the alleged wrong turns, she got in the front to “help him navigate,” she said.
After she refused a cigarette, changed the subject when he asked if she was a drinker, and told him she had asthma (a lie to get him to stop offering smokes, she said), he patted her on the head, the woman says.
He asked her what her ethnicity is, even though, as she told us, “I'm very clearly Asian.”
“I like Asian women,” was his response, she said. He added that he liked the “baby faces” of women of Asian heritage. And then, she claimed, “He touches my face.”
In the email to Uber, she said that he “stroked my cheek with the back of his hand.”
Then he turned on the car's interior light for the rest of the trip, “held out his hand for me,” and asked if she liked the beach, she said.
He said the beach was only 10 minutes from her home and insisted that they go, she said: “I said no. I was getting kind of worried.”
He asked her about her boyfriend, he asked her how many boyfriends she'd had in the past, and he started speaking about a Japanese woman he once went out with who was “so hot, crazy, sexy,” she said.
“He was taking his time” driving, she wrote to Uber. She added, during our own conversation, that she started talking about her boyfriend: “I said my boyfriend is waiting for me at home, I'm texting him now.”
When they arrived, he offered to open her door, but she got out on her own, the woman told us. “He said, 'Come back, I'll show how to give me a review'” on the Uber app, she said.
“I didn't want to spend any more time with him,” she said, so she left.
She told us she wrote down notes as soon as she got home so she could remember everything. “I was livid,” she said.
She was unimpressed with Uber's initial response in which a company representative wrote, in part:
I do want to clarify Uber does not employ drivers – we partner with drivers to provide on-demand transportation. So, your drivers are in fact “your driver”, not an Uber employee. While we cannot “terminate” [the driver], we most certainly will take all actions necessary to ensure that an experience like this one doesn't happen again.
On Monday, however, the same rep said that the driver “has been deactivated from the Uber platform” and that an investigation was underway.
An Uber spokeswoman did not respond to our offer to allow the company to speak on the record about the case.
Earlier this month police alleged that an Uber driver took a drunk-beyond-her-capacity club-goer from a West Hollywood club to a seedy, Panorama City motel, where he allegedly intended to have sexual contact with her.
However, the District Attorney's investigator couldn't track the victim down, and no charges were filed.
Uber said it suspended that driver's account with the firm after news of the alleged kidnapping broke. But the company also said that “it's certainly unclear that this is an Uber-related incident, as the driver in question was not logged in, connected to or operating on the platform at the time.”
When complaints against drivers arise, Uber often responds that these people are not employees and that they are only working for Uber as partners when their accounts are activated for app-driven trips.
Cops believe the woman in the Panorama City case was an Uber customer, but they say it appears that the driver did not activate his Uber account for the trip in question.
In Washington, D.C. an Uber driver was accused earlier this year of raping a 20-year-old female customer, but charges were not filed. And earlier this month an L.A.-area Uber customer alleged that a driver demanded a hug in lieu of payment.
Our Brentwood claimant says she and her friend talked about her own experience over the weekend. She said they discussed whether or not some Uber drivers “might see” late nights on the job “as an opportunity to pick up inebriated young women and get some action.”
[Added at 12:00 p.m.]: An Uber spokeswoman sent us this statement:
It is … our policy to immediately suspend a driver's account following any serious allegations, which we have done. Nothing is more important to Uber than the safety of our riders.