Trans Uber employees say they're being blocked and deadnamed

Their attempts to contact Uber support are rarely met with compassion.

PRODUCTION - 02 September 2021, Berlin: Silvan (r), a driver for food delivery service Uber Eats, pi...
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Everyone’s favorite ride-sharing company doesn’t know that gender non-conforming people exist, apparently. Uber’s app for drivers has been locking out nonbinary and trans employees after submitting updated identification records, The Los Angeles Times reports.

Adrien Escobedo, a trans man driving for Uber Eats in California, says he was locked out of his Uber account without warning last summer. He tells The LA Times that he tried at least 20 times to resubmit the required documentation, including photos of his face, copies of his license, and proof of car insurance. He was denied every time.

He was forced to wait weeks for a response from the company and ended up receiving an in-app message stating that, because he had submitted fraudulent documents, he had been banned from driving for Uber. The ban would be permanent, with no chance for appeal.

Escobedo is far from the only gender non-conforming person to find themselves on the wrong end of Uber’s ID verification process. And Uber doesn’t seem to care much at all.

A broken pact — A not-insignificant number of Uber drivers have had their accounts permanently banned for exactly the same reason, according to documentation shared with The LA Times. None were able to re-open their accounts through the company’s appeals system. The blocked workers have reportedly spent hours speaking to Uber’s support desk about their situations to no avail. Some spent days at a time just working to have Uber display their proper names, rather than their deadnames.

Uber has made explicit promises in the last year to “create a safer, more inclusive company” for LGBTQ employees, including the creation of a $60,000 fund to help drivers update their IDs. Escobedo’s account was banned just days after that announcement had been made.

Systemic gig worker abuse — Uber’s appeals process failed to such an extreme that a civil rights organization had to step in for the situation to be rectified; Escobedo was only able to use his Uber account again after the ACLU of Southern California sent the company a letter demanding the account be reinstated.

It’s no secret, in 2021, that Uber cares naught for its workers’ well-being. The company’s frantic fight against California’s proposed gig worker reforms proved as much. Who could forget the time Uber threatened to pull out of California entirely rather than give its workers basic benefits?

Uber says matching profile pictures to IDs is a fraud prevention measure, and that the company is working to improve its internal processes to ensure it runs smoothly for all drivers. We’re not holding our breath on that one.