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Uber Says It Can and Will Ban Passengers for Hate

August 18, 2017, 7:26 PM UTC

In an email sent to drivers and employees, ride-hailing giant Uber has reiterated its willingness to ban users who engage in discriminatory behavior. The note specifically described the policy as a response to last weekend’s violent white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Va.

The message, which was shared on Twitter by New York Times reporter Mike Isaac, was written by US & Canada regional manager Meghan Verena Joyce. It warns that more white supremacist rallies are likely, and tells drivers that “you have the right to end your trip if you feel uncomfortable or disrespected.”

One Uber driver, an unidentified African-American woman, did just that last Friday when two white supremacist passengers made disparaging remarks about African-Americans. The driver ended their trip and ordered the two men, who later attended the Charlottesville rally, out of the car. One of them, James Allsup, was then permanently banned from using Uber.

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Uber is far from alone in pushing racists away. Weeks before Charlottesville, Airbnb removed the accounts and cancelled reservations of white supremacists attending the rally. Web services and social media platforms have also banned far-right sites and users.

Uber’s willingness to ban racists will likely be received well by many drivers, more than half of whom were non-white as of January 2015. That could provide Uber at least a slight boost against rival Lyft in the competition for drivers, who have reported much higher satisfaction with Lyft than Uber.

But Uber’s stance comes with a major wrinkle, since the company itself has been accused of complicity in various types of discrimination. A study last year found that black users waited longer for rides, and were more likely to have rides cancelled, than whites. And widespread allegations of sexual harassment were at the center of an internal investigation concluded in June. Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, widely blamed for fostering a harsh culture, resigned shortly after the investigation concluded.