Though Uber is notorious for its ruthless tactics to take down competitors, the company’s cutthroat approach, it turns out, even extends to its own ilk.
Uber driver Chris Ortiz, 33, of Albuquerque, N.M., was unceremoniously dumped from the ridesharing company after he tweeted this Pando Daily story about a Los Angeles Uber driver who was robbed at gunpoint. “Driving for Uber,” Ortiz wrote, “not much safer than driving a taxi.”
“It wasn’t like I was trying to make a point,” Ortiz, who had a 4.8 out of 5 driver rating, told Forbes. “I was just sharing a story that people were reading.”
The company did not perceive it as such. “Sorry Christopher. Your account has been permanently deactivated due to hateful statements regarding Uber through Social Media,” read an email addressed to Ortiz from Uber operations manager John Hamby. “Best of luck. UBER on!”
But soon after Ortiz took to social media to share what had happened, igniting a firestorm of indignation, Uber’s stance suddenly shifted. “This was an error by the local team and the driver’s account should have never been deactivated,” the company said in a statement. “We reactivated the account upon discovering the mistake and we apologize to this highly rated driver partner for the inconvenience.”
Even still, Ortiz’s firing -- or deactivation, as Uber calls it -- raises heated questions about the company’s classification of its drivers, according to Forbes. While the company considers its drivers independent contractors as opposed to employees in order to avoid liabilities, the IRS states that “if a company can fire a worker, the worker might be an employee.”