City News Service

Following reports that Uber has prevented some transgender and nonbinary people from being drivers or food deliverers by deeming their identification documents to be fraudulent, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office and other municipal prosecutors called on the company Thursday to release details of its verification protocols.

“Uber tries to talk a good game when it comes to LGBTQ equality, but we have serious questions about whether it is failing transgender drivers,” L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer said in a statement. “We intend to find out if reported incidents are isolated mistakes or part of a larger pattern that locks some transgender drivers out of rideshare opportunities.”

Feuer partnered with San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott and San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu to write a letter to Uber’s general counsel, head of global public policy and director of public affairs.

The letter cites a Dec. 10 Los Angeles Times article reporting that Uber at times stopped transgender drivers from working for the company when their government-issued photo identifications didn’t match more recent photos that reflected their gender identity. The Times cited interviews with drivers and documentation provided by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The city attorneys’ letter to Uber also noted experiences of transgender drivers being “deadnamed” by the company, a practice of calling someone by their birth name instead of their chosen name as part of their gender transition.

Uber issued a statement saying it is reviewing the letter, but insisted the company is addressing the issue.

“We recognize that for transgender and non-binary drivers and delivery people, the name and photo on their ID does not always reflect their true identity, and we take their concerns seriously,” according to the company. “That’s why we developed a process, with input from the National Center for Transgender Equality, that enables drivers to display their chosen name in the Uber app.

“We’ve worked to train Uber staff to handle all requests with compassion, empathy, and respect. We are reviewing the city attorneys’ letter and look forward to continued collaboration to help ensure our platform is an inclusive experience for everyone.”

The city attorneys asked the company to release information about their protocols, suggesting it could be liable under anti-discrimination and workplace safety laws.

“Undermining the ability of transgender and nonbinary individuals to secure work is unconscionable. I expect Uber to take swift action to reverse course and commit to treating all drivers with dignity and respect,” Elliott said.

The letter requested information from Uber on:

— its background check and fraud prevention protocols, including other policies involving photo or name verification;

— options available to transgender and nonbinary drivers to help them meet the requirements of photo and name verification;

— policies and procedures related to transgender and nonbinary drivers displaying their chosen photo and name to the public; and

— the process for drivers to change their photo or name displayed to the public.

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