Uber Driver Refuses to Pick Up Woman in Labor

A New York City Uber driver refused to pick up a woman in labor, spent 10 minutes arguing and charged her $13. This is every urban pregnant woman's worst nightmare.

Uber Driver Refuses to Pick Up Woman in Labor JaysonPhotography/Shutterstock.com

Imagine this, if you will: you're in labor. Your husband and birthing coach are standing with you on a curb in New York City and your Uber driver is on his way. When he arrives and sees that you're about to pop out a baby, he argues with you for a good 10 minutes about not taking you to the hospital in case you mess up his back seat. Eventually, he pulls away and refuses to take you to the emergency room where you desperately need to go.

And then he charges you $13 for wasting his time. (Are you infuriated yet?) That's what happened to David Lee and his wife when their baby came earlier than expected. Luckily, another Uber driver arrived and happily drove them the three miles to the hospital where they welcomed a healthy baby.

But 37-year-old Lee is a lawyer in Manhattan and is wondering what it says about discrimination laws that Uber—and other car services—need to adopt. "I don't blame Uber for one driver's poor actions, since bad apples can appear in any organization, but I do think that when a company has a culture of bullying their way past laws and regulations, as Uber seems to do, they begin to think they can act with impunity in anything," he told Fortune magazine.

While Uber did refund the $13, the company is still standing by its driver and wouldn't reveal his name (though Lee did find it on his own and may file complaint against him). Under the law, taxi and Uber drivers are held to the same standards, and thus, cannot discriminate against women in labor, so must pick them up. In fact, they can't discriminate against anyone—disabled, pregnant, or otherwise, unless they feel personally threatened by the person.

Though Uber did say this about Lee and his wife: "Denying service to a passenger in labor is unacceptable: it goes against our code of conduct and the standard of service our riders rely on. We extend our deepest apologies to both riders and have taken action to respond to this complaint. We are glad that the rider's next driver was professional and courteous." There is still no update on a formal policy released to drivers about women in labor.

Related: Woman Gives Birth in an Uber