Uber driver’s racist slur caught on video after passengers refuse to end trip early
It was supposed to be a fun night out, but Uber’s ride there went wrong when the driver hurled a racial slur at Helin Turk’s friend, who is black – calling him the N-word .
“I was shocked,” the University of Toronto student told Go Public. “I was like, ‘How can you even say that? Then he told me to shut up when I was defending my friend.”
Turk, 22, complained and sent the video to Uber, then repeatedly asked what the company was doing about it and if the driver was still with the ride company.
She says – instead of responding – that she was charged $282 to her credit card for damage allegedly done to the driver’s car.
“It doesn’t make sense,” she said. “I did not damage a [side] mirror and it’s ridiculous to accuse me out of the blue like that two weeks later.”
On its website, Uber has a detail zero tolerance policy against racism and discrimination. He says customer service agents receive special training on handling cases like this. It also says it has simplified its reporting system.
But the company failed to “follow the lead” in this case, said Colleen James, CEO of Divonify, a company that provides equity, diversity and inclusion training to individuals and businesses. businesses.
“The problem that started it all has never been solved [with the passengers]. Instead, the company was quick to impose this $300 charge,” James said. “I mean, who is the perpetrator and who is the victim here?”
Uber never told Turk what action, if any, she was taking and never asked to speak with her friend. He later told Go Public that he suspended the driver from the app as soon as he heard of the incident, saying he then completed an investigation “after reviewing the full, unedited version of the video by our specialized security team”.
But when asked when, exactly, he suspended the driver – Turk had to report it multiple times (via phone, email, the app and Twitter) because, she says, the company doesn’t didn’t respond – Uber declined to provide details.
It’s also unclear if the driver has been permanently suspended.
James wonders what kind of investigation Uber really did, since he didn’t contact the victim, Turk’s friend.
“I mean, that’s clearly racism, isn’t it? There’s no two ways about it,” James said. “They didn’t communicate with the person affected by the behavior. And therein lies the problem.”
Turk’s friend tells Go Public he is disturbed by what happened. He asked us not to use his name, saying the focus should be on Uber.
‘You insult me and I’m still not angry’
It all started when Turk and his friend were meeting a group of people in downtown Toronto on March 19.
They hired an Uber to get there under Turk’s account.
Turk says she recorded on her phone after the driver started getting aggressive and swearing – demanding they get out of his vehicle before their trip was over. There was a lot of traffic and the trip took longer than expected.
They refused, saying there was no safe place to exit the vehicle and that they had already paid for the trip.
The driver had by then, she said, clicked on the app indicating he had dropped them off at their destination when he had not.
“It’s okay, Helin. He’s being unreasonable,” her friend says toward the start of the recording. “I don’t know why he’s going crazy. Nobody called him names, nobody insulted him.”
He then said to the driver, “You’re insulting me and I’m still not mad, so I’m just asking you to drop us off where we want to go… You have to be somewhere else, right? It’s you ?”
That’s when things went wrong. The driver tells Turk’s friend to “shut the fuck up”. He then swears again and uses the N-word.
Turk first reported it in a call to Uber the next day, providing the video via email.
Over the next few weeks, she followed, hoping it would spur the company to action.
“They said they were investigating. But what were they investigating? They just needed to watch the video,” she said.
Her friend says the Uber rep “seemed attentive…like they were going to take action.”
This charge of $282 occurred on April 1. Uber did not send a quote for the repairs, only a photo and the driver’s claim that Turk caused the damage.
Uber only refunded the money after hearing from Go Public.
“I don’t see how that’s proof,” she said of the photo. “It’s just a mirror image and it could be another car. And even if it was the driver’s car, it could be because he crashed somewhere.”
James is surprised that Uber took the driver’s word for the rearview mirror and then penalized Turk without fixing the problem that started it all.
“It wasn’t until the media got involved that the company was clear about the driver’s suspension,” she said. “That’s what we have to think about.”
James says it’s not too late for Uber to show it’s committed to its own policies.
“They should apologize to the other passenger, and if training is needed, that’s another thing. They need to follow the policies they created and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” a- she declared.
Go Public asked Uber why it didn’t contact Turk’s friend and why it charged Turk for the mirror damage, but the company didn’t respond.
Uber tells Go Public that it “does not tolerate any form of racism” and that those who use the platform are required to follow its Community Ruleswho says racist comments and slurs are never allowed.
Labor lawyer Barabara Green said Uber was obligated to create safe conditions for its passengers. And while racism investigations can take time, video of this incident would likely speed up the process.
Uber’s policies say nothing about notifying passengers of any action taken, but Green says the company might want to change that.
“Legally, there can be different obligations,” she said. But “as a passenger, I would be very traumatized by this event and would expect it to be taken seriously and [have it] escalating as quickly as possible – and I would expect to know the outcome.”
It’s not the first time Uber riders have complained about racism, although it’s the first time a video has surfaced.
In 2016, a Toronto woman said an Uber driver assaulted her and was racist when he told her that Pakistani Muslim women should “shut up”.
Then in 2020, still in Toronto, a black passenger said she was called the N-word by an Uber driverand called on the company to do more to combat anti-black racism.
On its website, the company says Canadians have taken 500 million Uber rides over the past ten years.
Last year, Uber added anti-racism pledges and anti-racism material to its website that says, “We believe everyone has the right to move freely and safely and to feel respected on our platform.”
In the latter case, Turk says she doesn’t think Uber would have reimbursed the damage costs if it hadn’t contacted Go Public. She says she still hopes the company will do the right thing and apologize to her friend.
“I’m not a person of color, but I’m still not going to let anyone take advantage of anyone else…He’s my friend. I can’t condone that, and nobody should,” she said. .
His friend recently contacted Uber himself, but still hasn’t received a response.
Go Public contacted a person with the same name as the driver for comment, but did not hear back. CBC decided not to name the driver.
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