Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have become a popular trend in big cities for people who want to use an alternative to taxis. Recently, there has been a new ride-sharing app called SheTaxis (aka SheRides) that allows female riders to request female drivers. Many women think this is a great idea to ensure the safety of women, especially at night. Some male drivers can intimidate or harass a woman who is riding in their car alone. In addition, this app is liked by women because it gives women the opportunity to become drivers in such a male-dominated profession.
However, this has brought about the question, “Are female only ride-sharing apps legal?” On the app, the user is asked if they have a female in their party, and if they do not, the user will be redirected to a different car service. Some say this is a form of sex discrimination because it seems unlawful to not allow a man in your car service unless he has a female present.
As much as this app is trying to help women, technically you cannot, as a taxi service or car service, deny customers based on sex or race.
When looking at it from the employment law angle, is a company allowed to hire only female workers without breaking discrimination laws? Federal and New York laws forbid businesses from treating workers or applicants favorably based on his or her gender. This violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and applies to all businesses with 15 or more employees.
From the looks of it, the legal employment questions would cause more of an issue for SheTaxi/SheRides. Denying a man employment because of his gender is hard to argue in courts. SheTaxi is also launched in India, and caters to women, families, and children, and is doing well.
Until then, this female-only car service has delayed its launch in New York City. The company says they need more female drivers to provide for their customers before fully launching. The company estimates they need at least 500 drivers to meet daily demands, and in mid-September, they only had roughly 100. Once the company fully launches, we will have to see over time what type of legal problems will arise from this company’s strict policies.