An Uber driver has been banned from the app after a woman says she kicked her and her girlfriend out of the car for being gay in an incident that was captured on video.
Kristin Gauthier said she and her girlfriend were in Oaklyn, New Jersey, trying to get to a concert Friday when a peck on the cheek set their driver off and caused her to force the women from the vehicle. Gauthier recorded part of the encounter on her cellphone.
The women were about four minutes into their ride when Gauthier leaned over toward her girlfriend and said, "Let's have a great night" before giving her a kiss on the cheek, she said.
Upon seeing that, the driver immediately told the couple they needed to get out of the car and pulled over to the side of the road, Gauthier said.
"She said, 'You're together. You're not allowed in my car. I'm not gonna drive you,'" Gauthier recalled. The driver told the women she did not condone their relationship because of her Christian beliefs, Gauthier added.
"I was confused because that has not happened to me before," Gauthier said.
Gauthier's girlfriend - who Gauthier said has experienced discrimination before because she has been openly gay for longer - quickly exited the car after telling the driver that as a Catholic, she too was Christian, Gauthier said. But Gauthier began recording.
"Are you kicking me out because I'm gay?" Gauthier says in the video. "Yes, I am, yes," the driver replies.
Things escalate as Gauthier continues recording, with the driver reaching back and apparently trying to swat the cellphone away. Both women begin shouting as the driver repeatedly tells Gauthier to "get out" and Gauthier uses an expletive to ask what is wrong with the driver.
The driver tells Gauthier that she is operating her personal vehicle and continues to tell her to get out, while Gauthier counters that she is paying for a service. "I can reject any ride I want," the driver says.
The video also shows Gauthier daring the driver to call the police, which the driver says she will do. Police were not called and Gauthier's girlfriend eventually convinced her to get out of the car, Gauthier said.
Though the driver said in the video that she has a right to reject any rider she wants, Uber's guidelines explicitly forbid discrimination. In a statement, Uber spokesman Grant Klinzman said that "Uber does not tolerate discrimination" and that the company has removed the driver's access to its app.
For her part, Gauthier said she was happy with Uber's response and with the mostly positive reaction from people, including rideshare drivers who have reached out to her to express support.
She regrets some of the language she used in the video but hopes the incident will shine a light on the issue of discrimination.
"People need to know that it does happen, and it's not right," Gauthier said.