In a freakish case of sexual discrimination, a lesbian couple claims to have been kicked out of their Uber ride by a driver for sharing a small kiss in the back seat.
Alex Iovine, 26, and Emma Pichl, 24, live together in Manhattan and have been dating for almost two years. The pair had ordered the taxi to take them from Brooklyn to Manhattan.
When Iovine presses him to explain why they're being ousted, Elbotari says "it's disrespectful". "We leaned in for a peck, and that's what it was, a legit peck". "That's genuinely all it was". 'You can't do this in the auto.
"I think, for both us, it was just a shock, not really knowing what to say", Pichl said.
Iovine said her reaction to the ordeal quickly went from shock to anger. "But that's not what was going on here".
A similar incident occurred in Houston last December, when a gay couple claimed an Uber driver dropped them off at the side of a freeway after they kissed in his vehicle.
During the ride, the driver pulled his vehicle over on Canal Street and ordered the women out of his auto.
"Yeah, it's illegal", the driver said. "You don't do that". A confrontation ensued. In phone video taken by one of the women, the driver says kissing in an Uber is illegal.
"I said the first time, don't do it", the driver responded. "You don't do that here in the vehicle".
After they left the vehicle, they confronted driver Ahmad El Boutari about it and he said that they were being "disrespectful".
Iovine and Pichl were refunded the $22 for the ride, they told ABC News, but they are now apprehensive about using the ride-hailing service. "My girlfriend started laughing", Iovine told the tabloid.
"It's my own auto".
The man reportedly yelled at them for being disrespectful.
Iovine told the Daily News they didn't behave inappropriately.
El Boutari added that he would have acted similarly if it had been a straight couple, though he admitted that he has "less tolerance" for same-sex couples.
Tough experience yesterday. Help spread the word about this Uber driver. He said one forced the other to smell her armpit, they played loud videos on their phones, one put her feet on his seat and they kissed.
'We are investigating and will take appropriate action'. A spokesperson for the TLC said, "The blatantly discriminatory behavior described by the complainant is repugnant".
An Uber spokeswoman told ABC News that they are in touch with the women and investigating the incident.
An Uber statement reads: "Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination and we have reached out to the rider regarding her experience".
Uber's CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told the NY Post that he believes drivers like the one seen in the video "don't belong on Uber".
"This is an open society and Uber is a platform that is available to anybody regardless of your background, your orientation, and that is sacred to us. It's an unfortunate circumstance and we will do everything we can for that not to repeat".
"It's illegal", he is heard saying after being asked why he's kicking them out.