I’m Alison Banville, co-editor of BSNews. Below are my emails to Uber’s press office. I’d had a driver arrive, demand proof of my mask exemption, then drive off when I told him he’d breached the law by asking me. Another driver argued about it when I was in the car, absolutely insisting that ‘it’s Uber policy’ – I’m constantly amazed by the number of people who are so enslaved by their corporate employee mindset they believe their company is above the law.
It was only when I informed him I could sue him personally that this driver changed his tune. The main problem was the Uber app, which required customers to agree to a statement saying they would wear a mask before travelling, but there was no mention whatsoever of exemptions.
That’s why I made of point of this in my emails to the press office. They tried to fob me off with a link to a general blog post but when I pressed the app issue I got no more response. However! The next time I looked the app had been changed to include mask exemption!!
On Sunday, February 14, 2021 at 3:21:31 PM UTC+2 Alison Banville wrote:
I’m an independent journalist, please google my name to see some of my articles. I’m currently writing on how companies are interpreting corona regulations, particularly mask wearing. I have contacted various shops and supermarkets and I’m contacting Uber because I have had personal experience of being refused a ride by drivers even though I am exempt from wearing a mask.
The drivers who refused me stated that Uber had instructed them to refuse anyone not wearing a mask. Can I ask if this is true? One driver demanded to see proof that I am exempt which, as I explained to him, is an offence under the Equality Act. I explained to each driver that the UK government recognises exemptions and lists them on its own website.
The UK government also states that it is not allowed to demand proof of exemption, not least because this would involve divulging confidential medical information. Each driver I spoke to seemed to think that Uber is a higher authority than the UK government, which is, of course, patently untrue.
The drivers seemed totally unaware that refusing rides to mask exempt people puts them outside the law and risks a fine of up to 9000 pounds for breach of the Equality Act 2010. Company policy does not supersede this act. Can Uber confirm whether you are acting in line with the Equality Act by informing your drivers of UK government legislation on discrimination against those who are medically exempt from wearing a mask? And that they will be committing an offence if they refuse a service to a person who is exempt under the law?
On Wednesday, 17 February 2021, 09:44:39 GMT, Hermione Randolph <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Thank you so much for your email. I think this blogpost on our mask policy might be the most helpful source of information for you. If you require anything else, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
On Wednesday, 17 February 2021, 16:48:59 GMT, Alison Banville <alisonbanville> wrote:
The blogpost is very comprehensive and covers exemptions well. The problem is, Uber drivers are clearly not being made aware of the exemption legislation. If they were then I would not have experienced drivers refusing to take me, driving off, and arguing with me that Uber policy is to refuse anyone without a mask.
I have also now had feedback, after doing research, from other people who have had similar problems. It really isn’t much use to customers for Uber to be aware of the legalities but not inform their drivers. And in the app there is no mention whatsoever of exemption in the mask compliance section.
If there was then it could be shown to the driver quite easily. All drivers should be made fully aware of the law when they begin working for Uber. Can I ask why this is not done? And does Uber have any plans to include mention of exemption on the app?
Lastly, drivers should also be made aware that not only is there no requirement for customers to show proof of exemption, but it is a breach of the law for drivers to ask for proof. I’d be grateful if you could comment on these points.
Alison Banville is co-editor of BSNews