When I heard about the new ride-share app that allows female riders to request female drivers, I thought “it’s about time.” SheTaxis, or SheRides as it will be called in New York City due to city regulations, is aimed at female passengers who would feel more comfortable with a woman behind the wheel, and/or who would prefer not to hop in a car with a male stranger. Any woman who has taken a cab alone can understand why this is a great idea. Sketchy drivers asking about your relationship status, mean ones who holler at you (the way they never would to a man) when you request a certain route—who needs it? Not to mention the opportunity SheTaxis presents to support women trying to make a buck in a male-dominated field.
Enter the lawyers to shatter everyone’s dreams. Of course, they want to ponder the question: is this legal? It does reek of sex discrimination. The app asks the user if they have a female in their party, and if they do not, the user will be redirected to another car service. On the employment law front: how can the company hire only female drivers without running afoul of Title VII and state/city discrimination laws? On the public accommodation front, how can the company bar men from entering their cars unless accompanied by a woman?
These are complex and important questions, and we won’t know for sure what a court would say unless a test case comes up. Don’t hold your breath for that. Either way, SheTaxis is ready to tackle these thorny issues if they arise, a spokesperson told the WSJ Law Blog. The service is set to launch on September 16. The best part—drivers will arrive wearing hot pink pashminas around their necks.
Lawyering up is nothing new in the wild west of ride-share companies. Uber, for example, has worked with the likes of Reed Smith and Fenwick & West, and its in-house team includes alums from firms such as Covington & Burling and Quinn Emanuel.
New Car Service App for Women Raises Legal Questions, Experts Say (WSJ Law Blog)
New Service Offers Taxis Exclusively For Women (NYT)
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