Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, Door Dash, Instacart, and GrubHub are just a few of the companies made possible by technology and the internet, but their success depends on a large pool of cheap labor they can classify as contract employees, not permanent employees. These workers are often denied basic labor rights, benefits, or protections. While Silicon Valley scandals like those of Google and Uber have been in the news lately for workplace discrimination and sexual harassment of female engineers, less attention is paid to the women at the bottom of the ladder and their working conditions.
When female drivers were asked about sexual harassment on the job, many of them had stories to tell, but none of them were willing to give their full names. The reason they give for this is that they are dependent on the money they make at their low wage driving jobs and are terrified of being “deactivated,” the modern-day tech term for being let go from the job. One female driver for DoorDash said she has been groped by one customer and sent porn by another. Because she got so little response from DoorDash about the pornographic messages, she did not bother report the groping figuring the company would not take any action against the customer. Even after DoorDash canceled the order, the man continued to send her multiple messages. A spokesman for DoorDash confirmed that the customer who sent pornography was deactivated, but said a five-minute window existed where he was still able to text the female driver.
Others Share Similar Experiences
One San Francisco Uber driver says in three years she has been groped by passengers four times. Her only recourse is to give low ratings to the riders who sexually harass her. She worries that reporting the incidents to the company could get her in trouble although she often feels unsafe when picking up drunk and belligerent passengers. Another female driver confirmed this experience saying she has had to deal with physical fights, and passengers having sex in the car. She had previously been a New York City taxi driver and notes that Uber drivers have no partition to protect them. Once a drunken passenger kicked her seat aggressively when he thought she was going the wrong direction.
Uber says that it has an incident response team that operates 24/7 and that reports of harassment and assault are investigated and offending passengers are banned from the platform. They say that drivers who call the incident response team are connected with live representatives. However, many gig economy drivers have had trouble getting anything other than automated replies when they call their companies to complain of dangerous situations.
In any regular job, employees would turn to their human resources department to file a complaint and have it investigated. The companies would also be more liable for the safety of the workers, but since they are contract employees many drivers do not report being sexually harassed on the job. Instead they suffer in silence and do not complain out of fear of retaliation from the companies that hire them – something that regular employees know is illegal.
Red Bank Sexual Harassment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Provide Legal Representation for Victims of a Hostile Work Environment
If you have experienced sexual harassment or a hostile work environment at your job, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C.. to speak to a Red Bank sexual harassment lawyer about your legal options. We will fight to make sure you obtain the justice and compensation you deserve.