A 35-year-old Uber driver identified as Ahmad El Boutari, has been banned from using the app, after a lesbian couple claimed they were kicked out of his car for kissing in the back seat.
Emma Pichl and Alex Lovine, a couple in their 20s, were on their way from Brooklyn to Manhattan on Saturday when they exchanged what they called a “peck” on the lips. Moments later the driver pulled over the car and told them “you should not do that”, Ms Pichl told The New York Post.
Ahmad El Boutari had his licence suspended on Tuesday, after the footage which circulated online showed the driver telling the women: “You can’t do this in the car”. The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, which licenses about 180,000 drivers of car services and yellow cabs, branded his behavior “ridiculous”.
“It’s 2018 in New York City, and this isn’t the way we live anymore,” commission spokesman Allen Fromberg said.
Uber has launched an investigation and has removed Mr El Boutari’s access to its app, saying it does not tolerate discrimination. The women said the driver, from Brooklyn, forced them out of the car and a confrontation ensued. The video, posted on Facebook by Ms Iovine, showed the driver saying kissing is “disrespectful”.
“You can’t do this in the car,” the driver says.
“Kissing is not illegal,” one of the women responds. “Why are we not allowed to kiss in an Uber?”
“It’s disrespectful,” the driver says.
Mr El Boutari told the Daily News that the women played loud music on their phones and one put her feet on the seat. But Ms Lovine said that was not true. “We would never try to upset someone in their own car,” she told the Associated Press.
She added: “After we had peck-kissed, sitting on opposite sides of the back seat and not even touching, I saw him looking at me in the rearview mirror.
“He was very angry.”
She said they were in lower Manhattan when the driver pulled over, opened a rear door and ordered them to “get out of my car.”