Uber’s CEO has spoken out in defense of a couple of girlfriends whose Uber driver kicked them out of his car when they gave each other a kiss on the lips while crossing the Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn Saturday, according to New York TV station WNBC.
When the couple, Alex Iovine and Emma Pichl, leaned in for a kiss in the backseat of the Uber that was taking them to a party in the East Village, the driver pulled the car over and ordered them to get out.
“We peck kissed, like I reached across and pecked kissed her,” Iovine told WNBC. “That’s how fast it was; that’s why I say ‘pecked.’”
“It was immediate shock,” Iovine said of the driver pulling over. “We couldn’t believe something like this was happening.”
Standing on the side of the road, the women began to videotape their encounter with the driver (identified by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission as Ahmad El Boutari), who said that their kissing was “illegal.”
The couple replied to his assertion by saying, “Kissing is not illegal,” which set the driver off.
“You can’t do this in the car. You aren’t allowed to do this,” he said. “It’s disrespectful.”
One of the women can be heard in the video responding to him incredulously, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you sick in the head?"
The women became audibly upset on the video and threatened to report him to Uber when he attempted to wrest the phone being used to record him from them.
“I’d say if he feels so uncomfortable with two girls pecking in the backseat, then he shouldn’t be an Uber driver in New York City,” Pichl told WNBC.
While the women did not report the driver directly to Uber, when the company became aware of the incident it released a statement that read, “Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination.”
Beyond the company’s statement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who replaced the company’s founder, Travis Kalanick — who stepped down amid scandal at the company, including allegations of rampant sexual harassment — excoriated the driver for his behavior.
“I think they don’t belong driving period,” Khosrowshahi told the New York Post of intolerant drivers.
As for Iovine and Pichl, they aren't convinced that Uber is a safe space.
“We’re a little hesitant to get in an Uber again,” Iovine said. “We made a pact that we will be taking the subway."