Uber cuts ties with driver who allegedly called Black passenger the N-word

·3 min read

A Toronto woman says she was disgusted after an Uber driver called her the N-word and told her to leave his vehicle.

Aisha Fairclough, a freelance television producer, was with her partner, Ontario NDP MPP Jill Andrew, at the time of the Thursday afternoon incident.

Fairclough said when she went to get into the vehicle with her partner the driver refused to to adjust his seat to provide enough leg room. After a tense ride, Fairclough said the driver swore at her as she was exiting, called her the N-word and said "get out of my car."

"I asked him what did you just say? I was shocked. I could've burst into tears because I was so shocked," she told CBC Toronto.

Fairclough said the driver, who was wearing a mask, then claimed he didn't say anything. Fairclough said Andrew was already out of the vehicle when the words were said.

"This was sickening. It was angering and it was painful. This type of thing happens all the time. It's happened to me in the past, it's happened to many other Black people and it has to stop," she said.

She immediately tweeted a picture of the driver and alerted Uber. "Adding insult to injury he was also racialized," Fairclough said in her tweet.

CBC Toronto has not spoken with the driver.

An Uber spokesperson said in an email Thursday night that the driver is no longer working for the ride-hailing company and that it does not tolerate discrimination.

But Fairclough wants more than an apology from Uber.

"We really need them to declare a public commitment to policy and training to address anti-Black racism at Uber. We need to know there's a strategy for drivers so that they're not perpetuating hate," she said.

Jessica Laforet
Jessica Laforet

Andrew tweeted the incident was a clear act of anti-Black racism.

"Unfortunately, this driver showed himself to the wrong family," she said.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath also responded to Fairclough's post, tweeting that she was upset by the incident against her friends.

"I am saddened and furious that this day, which began in celebration and support of the diverse 2SLGBTQIA+ community in the [Church Wellesley] village ended in a vile act of anti-Black racism against my friends Aisha and Jill."

Horwath went on to ask Uber to fire the driver and show people what steps the company is taking to keep Black and queer riders safe.

Uber has a non-discrimination policy, which can be found online (it takes several clicks). The policy is a single paragraph, and as of Friday doesn't list any specific measures to address anti-Black racism. There is no language, for example, surrounding the use of racial slurs.

"What has been reported is deeply upsetting and something no person should experience. Discrimination has no place on the Uber app or anywhere. As soon as we became aware of this, we immediately removed the driver's access to the Uber app," an spokesperson for the company said on Thursday.

Fairclough is calling on Uber to make a public commitment to create new policy and training to address anti-Black racism.