Taray Carey put his arm around his husband, Alex Majkowski, in the backseat of an Uber ride on Wednesday, never expecting the gesture would spark what he described as a “hate-filled assault.”
“Are you fags?” Carey said the driver asked.
Unsure if he had heard the man correctly, Carey asked him to repeat himself.
“Are you faggots?” Carey said the driver responded.
Carey and Majkowski, who got married less than a month ago, were with a friend in Midtown Manhattan around 2 a.m. when they ordered the Uber ride. The three men were on their way to a bar near the couple’s East Village home.
Carey told NBC News all three of them were left speechless as the driver continued his hateful tirade. “He’s telling us in his country we would be beheaded and left for dead,” Carey recalled, adding that the driver said he was from Russia.
The friend stepped out of the Uber at the next red light. Carey attempted to follow him but got caught in the seat belt. He said the driver dragged him about a “quarter of a block” down an East Village street. His hands, left knee and upper left leg are covered in deep welts from the incident, according to pictures Carey posted publicly to his personal Facebook page.
Majkowski said he was still in the car when his husband was dragged along the street. “I said, ‘Let me out, let me out, let me out!’ just over and over until he stopped,” he told NBC New York.
The couple said they turned to police in a nearby squad car after the incident in an attempt to prevent other riders from getting hurt, but they were disappointed by the response. Carey claimed the cops refused to investigate the incident as a hate crime, and he alleged that one of the officers told them they “probably deserved it.”
“We were very emotional and very upset, but the cop was barely listening. He wasn’t taking notes,” Carey lamented. “We wanted him to put out an alert to search for this guy’s plates, and he told us not to tell him how to do his job.”
A spokesperson for the New York City Police Department strongly refuted Carey’s claims about the officers’ response.
“After reviewing body camera video from the responding Police Officers, at no time did any of the officers mock the victim, tell him that he probably deserved it or laugh at him,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “A complaint report was filed for leaving the scene of an accident with injury and is being investigated by the 9th Precinct Detective Squad.”
In a statement shared with NBC News, Uber called the alleged incident “very concerning” and said while it investigates the incident, “the driver’s access to the app has been removed.” The driver’s dismissal from Uber, however, does not disqualify him from driving from other ride-share apps like Lyft or Via.
“This is my biggest thing,” Carey said. “Even if Uber has taken him off the app, he can still do this again, and he might do more harm in the future.”
Wednesday’s alleged assault is just one of several reported incidents this year of LGBTQ people being victimized by taxi or rideshare drivers.
Just before the new year, a gay couple in Houston said they were kicked out of an Uber ride after sharing a quick kiss. Then in May, a gay couple in Indianapolis claimed they were booted from a Lyft ride for sharing a “short kiss on the lips.” In June, a gay man said a New York City taxi driver told him, “I don’t drive gays,” and that same month, a lesbian couple claimed they were thrown out of an Uber ride for sharing a “peck.” In perhaps the most frightening incident, a gay man earlier this month claimed a Lyft driver in Miami pulled a gun on him after exclaiming, “I want to kill everyone that’s gay.”
A study published earlier this year claims some LGBTQ users of rideshare apps are discriminated against even before they step foot in a car. Researchers Jorge Mejia of Indiana University and Chris Parker of Pennsylvania State University found drivers are more likely to cancel trips of users who appear to be LGBTQ or LGBTQ allies based on their profile photos on the app.
New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, which regulates all for-hire vehicles in the city, including Uber, said it is looking into Wednesday’s alleged incident and “takes such important matters very seriously.”
“Such behavior will not be tolerated in the industries we regulate and it will be fully investigated,” the commission said in a statement shared with NBC News.
Taxi driver dies after setting himself on fire to protest carpool app
A South Korean taxi driver set himself on fire and died Monday to protest a carpooling service proposed by a company that operates the country’s most popular chat app.
The 57-year-old driver doused himself in a flammable liquid and then lit his clothing while sitting in a taxi near parliament, police and the fire department said.
Unionized taxi drivers have held rallies in the capital, Seoul, to protest the carpooling app proposed by Kakao Mobility, which they say threatens their jobs.
Kakao Mobility, the transportation service arm of top mobile messenger operator Kakao Corp., said Friday it was testing the carpooling app despite opposition from taxi drivers who want the government to refuse permission for the service.
“We are still in the middle of a tug-of-war against the government to stop the carpool service,” said an official at the Korea National Joint Conference of Taxi Association.
A spokeswoman for Kakao Mobility said the company extended its sympathies to the family of the taxi driver.
“We feel sorry and sad and express our condolences,” the spokeswoman said. She declined further comment.
The transport ministry was not immediately available for comment.
NY: Uber, Lyft drivers secure $17.22 minimum wage in new TLC rules
Tens of thousands of drivers with Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services in the city are set to receive a hefty pay raise.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission’s Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to approve the Driver Income and Transparency Rules, which guarantee a minimum hourly wage of $17.22 (after expenses) to more than 80,000 drivers who work for larger app-based companies such as Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno. A higher minimum wage also was set for drivers with wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
The new rules mean 96 percent of ride-hail drivers in the city will get an additional $10,000 in income per year, according to the TLC.
“New York City is the first city globally to recognize that the tens of thousands of men and women who are responsible for providing increasingly popular rides that begin with the touch of a screen deserve to make a livable wage and protection against companies from unilaterally reducing it,” TLC chair Meera Joshi said following the vote. “Convenience costs, and going forward, that cost will no longer be borne by the driver.”
Drivers will be paid based on a per-minute, per-mile minimum trip formula once the rules go into effect, which is expected to happen by mid-January 2019.
Ride-hail companies will be responsible for ensuring drivers are paid appropriately based on the new rules. The TLC also will be making a wage calculator available on its website so that drivers can determine how much their employer should be paying them.
Uber and Lyft on Tuesday warned that the new rules stifle competition in the industry and would result in higher fares for customers while decreasing availability.
“Uber supports efforts to ensure that full-time drivers in NYC — whether driving with taxi, limo or Uber — are able to make a living wage, without harming outer borough riders who have been ignored by yellow taxis and underserved by mass transit,” Uber’s director of public affairs Jason Post said. “The TLC’s implementation of the City Council’s legislation to increase driver earnings will lead to higher than necessary fare increases for riders while missing an opportunity to deal with congestion in Manhattan’s central business district.”
The TLC also did not consider that some companies issue driver incentives and bonuses to ensure reliability and accessibility in areas outside of Manhattan when it came up with the new wage formula, according to Post.
Describing the rules as a “step backward for New Yorkers,” Lyft took issue with a loophole in the wage calculator that it said allows companies to petition for their own, lower utilization rate within the formula. The company also argued against an “eleventh-hour” rule addition that sets a different minimum pay rate for trips that take drivers outside of the five boroughs.
“Lyft believes all drivers should earn a livable wage and we are committed to helping drivers reach their goals,” a spokesman for Lyft said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the TLC’s proposed pay rules will undermine competition by allowing certain companies to pay drivers lower wages, and disincentive drivers from giving rides to and from areas outside Manhattan.”
While ride-hail companies oppose the regulations, the Independent Drivers Guild, representing over 70,000 for-hire vehicle drivers in the city, lauded the decision.
“All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America,” said Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild.
Via also welcomed the new wage rules on Tuesday.
“As the industry leader in driver earnings in New York City, we are looking forward to working with the TLC on implementing this rule,” the company said in an emailed statement.
Joshi, meanwhile, said that she believes New Yorkers would be willing to pay more and wait a little longer if it meant their drivers are being paid a fair wage.
New York City taxi and rideshare drivers to receive a living wage
We’ve talked before about how hard it is for folks driving for Lyft and Uber to break even. Things aren’t so hot for cab drivers, either: as ridesharing becomes more prevalent by the day, those who own their own taxi or drive for someone else are finding it harder to make a living. The drop in revenue going into the pockets of New York City Taxi medallion owners has been so extreme that drivers have been forced to work 100-hour weeks just to stay out of the red. Others, feeling that their lives were ruined by mounting debt, out of desperation committed suicide. Today, New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission decided that they’d do something about it.
Today, New York’s City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission approved measures to enact minimum pay requirements for app-based for-hire vehicles (FHV) like Uber, Lyft, and Juno. The new pay structure is set to take effect early in the new year.
The $26.51 per hour gross pay floor (estimated to amount to $17.22 per hour, less expenses) comes after “growing evidence of declining driver pay” was confirmed by a labor study, commissioned by the TLC, which concluded that 85 percent of drivers in NYC were earning less than the local minimum wage of $15 an hour. The new requirements will increase the average driver’s take-home pay by an estimated $9,600 per year.
Advocacy groups like the Independent Driver’s Guild and Amalgamated Transit Union have celebrated the change. “All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America,” Conigliaro, Jr., founder of IDG, wrote in a press statement.
So of course, rideshare companies are throwing a fit.
According to Gizmodo, Uber thinks it’s fantastic that their drivers will finally be able to make a living wage, but insinuated that the extra cash required to ensure that their employees can afford to eat AND pay the rent would come out of the pockets of those using the rideshare service. Lyft? They’re thrilled that folks can afford to maybe set their kids up at a decent daycare while simultaneously paying all of their bills. But they warn that “the TLC’s proposed pay rules will undermine competition by allowing certain companies to pay drivers lower wages, and disincentive drivers from giving rides to and from areas outside Manhattan.”
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