Uber has been making slow but steady progress toward legalised operations in Australia having become legal in the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales late last year. Meanwhile, in Victoria, Uber services were effectively legalised after charges against one of its drivers were overturned on appeal much to the dismay of the local taxi industry.
While the company has generated publicity challenging incumbent taxi industries around the world, the company and one of its drivers have made the headlines for an entirely different matter.
Lucy Thomas, a Melbourne resident and co-founder of Project Rockit, an anti-bullying group, encountered an Uber driver who had no issues using a range derogatory slurs after realising that his two passengers were in a same-sex relationship.
After being confronted that his behaviour was hurting people, the Uber driver told the passengers to get out of the car, in direct contravention of the company’s non-discrimination policy. The two women exited the vehicle after the driver threatened to drag them out and call the police after becoming aware that the conversation had been recorded.
Warning: audio clip contains offensive language.
Thomas later tweeted about her experience which drew the attention of Uber Australia. Despite receiving initial advice that she would not be notified of the outcome of her report for privacy reasons, the company advised that the driver had been sacked.
While the Uber driver ultimately wore the consequences for his actions, it serves as a timely reminder that audio or video recordings can be captured almost anywhere. Interestingly, taxis operating in Australia have tamper-proof cameras installed as standard while Uber vehicles do not giving rise to the question as to which is in fact safer.