Questions arise over the legality of the ‘female-only Uber’

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2016 | Workplace Discrimination

The ridesharing giant Uber has seen its fair share of legal difficulties over the last few years, embroiled in lawsuits involving everything from allegations of improper employee classifications to inferior background checks. Indeed, the company has also been under fire over allegations that it’s not doing enough to protect female drivers and passengers from the risk of assault.

Interestingly enough, this reality prompted one Massachusetts man, who actually used to work as an Uber driver, to start his own ridesharing company that is “driven by women” and “exclusively for women.”

Chariot for Women, which opened for business this week, is designed with a safety-first mindset:

  • All drivers must be fingerprinted and submit to a thorough background check via a partnership with local law enforcement prior to hiring
  • All drivers must answer a security question confirming their identity before starting their ridesharing workday
  • All drivers and passengers will be provided with a safe word, such that the ride won’t begin until the driver confirms it with the passenger

No matter what your view is on the company’s all-female approach, its business model is raising questions among members of Massachusetts’ legal community.

Indeed, some have indicated that while the idea of limiting a customer-base only to women could prove problematic from a legal perspective, it could be even more so as far as hiring is concerned.

That’s because the laws in Massachusetts declare that any attempt to limit employees to one gender must satisfy the rather lofty legal standard of having what is known as a bona fide occupational qualification.

By way of example, places where nearly-constant or constant contact with only women is part of the job — like a prison guard at a women’s prison or a social worker in a women’s shelter — would satisfy the standard.

In light of this reality, experts say the safety-minded all-female business model of Chariot for Women might not survive a workplace discrimination lawsuit.

It’s worth noting that a similar ride-sharing company here in New York, SheTaxis, faced similar questions upon its launch back in 2014. However, it appears to have avoided any legal troubles thus far by diverting ride requests from men to other ride-sharing companies.

Stay tuned for updates …

If you believe that you been victimized by workplace discrimination in any capacity, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your rights and your options.

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