Women-Only Taxi App: Sound Model or Discrimination?

A new mobile app designed to match female passengers with female drivers is causing controversy between those who believe the app will provide a useful service for women who might feel unsafe hopping in a male-operated cab and those who believe the entire model is discriminatory.

The people behind SheRides (known as SheTaxis outside of New York) claim to be looking out for a large population of women who might prefer the implied comfort and safety of riding with fellow women, and on a basic level, it seems like an understandable concern.

But some legal experts believe the business clashes with crucial legal standards outlined in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on a number of factors, including sex. Even though SheRides claims to be able to refer male would-be riders to other companies, experts say the issue is not ultimately whether male passengers are welcomed by some company — the issue is that they are not being welcomed by SheRides, solely on the basis of gender.

The company doesn’t just run into problems with its passengers, either. Also prohibited by Title VII, along with other federal and New York state laws, is the act of hiring or not hiring workers based on their sex. In fact, Sylvia A. Law, a New York University sex discrimination scholar, believes the company may be at greater risk of legal challenges on the employer side of the law.

Sex discrimination, 50 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, remains a hotly contested subject. Whether a company like SheRides can continue to operate under its current model will likely be settled in the courts, no matter the intent behind its model.

If you believe an employer, business or government agency has discriminated against you, contact the knowledgeable Manhattan discrimination attorneys at Derek T. Smith Law Group.

 

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