Alex Iovine, 26, and Emma Pichl, 24, did what most young couples do after a day of partying at their local Brooklyn beach. They hired Uber to pick them up and cart them to Manhattan to meet up for a night out with friends (with the current state of the MTA who can blame them?).
Until they were thrown out of the car by their driver.
Iovine, told CNBC “We were sitting in the two window seats with the middle seat between us. At one point we turned to each other and pecked on the lips.” Only halfway to their destination, their uber driver (Ahmad El Boutari) dramatically pulled over his vehicle and demanded the girls get out of the car. The young couple naturally laughed thinking the driver must be joking.
Until the driver hopped out of his car, opened up the passenger door and once again, vehemently demanded the couple exit his vehicle. Begining to feel afraid and nervous, Iovine and Pichl pulled out their phones and began to record the scene at hand — which was shared with the press on Monday.
Uber launched a swift investigation after becoming aware of the event. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission took action and suspended the driver’s taxi license, while the investigation is pending.
In the video, Iovine asks why they are being asked to leave the vehicle, to which the driver tells them their actions are “illegal” and that their behavior is “disrespectful.”
“It’s illegal,” the driver said. He added: “You can’t do this in the car. It’s disrespectful. You aren’t allowed to do this.”
The couple quickly realized he was reacting to their quick kiss, and the couple continued to ask why they aren’t allowed to kiss.
“It’s not illegal to kiss in New York. We leaned in for a peck.” Iovine told CNBC when asked for a comment.
Uber’s community guidelines state, “Don’t touch or flirt with other people in the car. As a reminder, Uber has a no-sex rule. That’s no sexual conduct between drivers and riders, no matter what.” Uber’s guidelines for drivers prohibits discrimination of any kind and states that drivers can’t “refuse to provide services based on characteristics like a person’s race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, sex, marital status, gender identity, age or any other characteristic protected under relevant federal, state or local law.”
Iovine has stated that being kicked out of the car was a breach of “Uber’s Community Guidelines as it relates to discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.”
“Anyone who knows me knows that I’m respectful and I would never engage in sexual conduct in public, I think it would be disrespectful to engage in that in someone’s Uber, but that is nothing close to what happened here,” Iovine told CNBC.
The new CEO of Uber (Dara Khosrowshahi) agrees with the young people, that the driver discriminated against and told the New York Post that drivers who kick lesbian couples out of his car for kissing “don’t belong on Uber.”
Both the driver and the couple have reported the incident. We’ll keep you posted as the story unfolds.