Another Uber conflict

Company says it fired driver over complaints of being impaired. He says he was assaulted.

On the wrong side of an alleged assault and fired for accusations of impaired driving, an Elk Grove resident is looking to take the fight to Uber.

Former Uber driver Richard West claims he was wrongfully fired by the ridesharing giant and states that the company has failed to cooperate with authorities on an assault case West filed with the Citrus Heights Police Department. West provided SN&R multiple letters and emails sent to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and Uber Support as recent as March 25 encouraging the company to participate in the investigation.

SN&R reached out to Uber for comment and was contacted by safety associate Andrew Hasbun. He says law enforcement never contacted the company about an assault on West.

Citrus Heights police Officer Kane Kissam declined to comment on the case except to say that it had been forwarded to the Sacramento County district attorney’s office for further review.

In an emailed response, Hasbun said West was fired from Uber due to rider complaints accusing West of driving while impaired. “UBER has a zero tolerance policy for impaired driving,” Hasbun wrote. “This particular driver had multiple complaints about suspected impairment which led to his deactivation.”

West denies the accusations. In a series of emails with Uber’s support team from March 11-25, West appealed for his rehiring and sought more information about why he was fired.

“I do not drink and I have never done illegal drugs of any kind,” West said. “I am surprised and dismayed that I have not received a call from upper management.”

In the emails, West made several requests to be contacted by Uber’s San Francisco headquarters. After declaring West’s firing final through email, Uber Support stated that “phone support is only available to active partners.”

The ridesharing company is no stranger to conflict. Sexual harassment allegations from within the company forced Travis Kalanick to step down as CEO following an internal investigation. The New York Times also reported on Greyball, a secret tool used to dodge authorities. The company also concealed a cyber attack in which customer data was breached and lost its license to operate in London over a failure to provide proper safety for its riders and drivers. All of this is from 2017.

Proper safety for riders and drivers is something West also brought up in his letters. One letter, addressed to Assemblyman Jim Cooper, pushes for driver safety to be just as important as rider safety by calling for background checks to be performed on both riders and drivers alike.

In 2016, Cooper wrote a bill that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown requiring ridesharing services to perform stricter background checks on prospective drivers. The bill was designed to unveil complete criminal histories of drivers to provide greater safety for riders of services such as Uber and Lyft.

West says he plans to hire a lawyer and take further action.