Rideshare Drivers of Color Are More Likely to Be Fired Than White Drivers

New research shows non-White drivers for Lyft and Uber are more likely to be dismissed after rider complaints.

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Image: Gabrielle Lurie (AP)

Rideshare drivers have it hard. Aside from the dangers of picking up unknown strangers in their vehicles, they also have to be on edge. Complaints from riders can result in dings to their reputation or worse, a full on dismissal as a driver. But some drivers are more likely to be fired than others. Wired reports that a new study shows drivers of color are more likely than to be fired from services like Uber and Lyft after driver complains than are white drivers in similar situations.

A joint report done by Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Asian Law Caucus and Rideshare Drivers United found that nonwhite drivers of color and immigrant drivers are more likely to be dismissed by Uber and Lyft after a rider complaint. Of the 810 drivers surveyed in the report, 69 percent of drivers of color said they had permanent or temporary deactivation as a driver. Compare that to 57 percent of white drivers who said the same thing. Nonnative English speakers fared badly as well. They were more likely to be fired as a driver compared to English speakers.


Worse yet, drivers of color reported dealing with bias and discrimination but reported that their respective rideshare companies didn’t provide them with any kind of support. Just three percent of drivers surveyed said that their complaints were investigated “adequately.

One L.A.-based driver named James Jordan spoke to Wired; he had been an Uber driver for five years before being dismissed after a single incident. Jordan, who is Black, said he was making $8,000 to $10,000 per month as a driver. But a rider complained that he tried to hit her with his vehicle, and his account was deactivated. He even offered to send Uber footage from his vehicle’s dashcam showing he didn’t do what the rider claimed. But he says that they told him their decision was final.


They weren’t interested in that,” he said of his offer for evidence. Uber disputes this, with a spokesperson for the company telling Wired that the company had no record of Jordan attempting to submit evidence.

Meanwhile, both rideshare companies disputed the findings of the report on drivers of color. A Lyft spokesperson told Wired that the company has a human-led evaluation process and that drivers are only dismissed after multiple warnings. “Unless there is a serious emergency or safety threat, we provide multiple warnings to drivers before permanently deactivating their account.”


Uber also discounted the report, with a company spokesperson calling it flawed but also giving a statement to Wired that really didn’t say much of anything: “Lyft takes safety reports from riders and drivers seriously and reviews and investigates them to determine the appropriate course of action,” the company said.