Uber Eats driver awarded payout in discrimination case
Technology

Eliminating Racial Harassment in the Gig Economy: Uber Eats Driver’s Winning Legal Battle Shines a Light on AI and Its Impact

Black Uber Eats driver, Pa Edrissa Manjang, has received a payout after facing “racially discriminatory” facial-recognition checks that prevented him from accessing the app for work. Mr Manjang joined Uber Eats in November 2019 and initially did not have to regularly send selfies to register for jobs. However, the app started increasing verification checks in 2021, leading to his account being removed due to “continued mismatches”.

Uber stated that the real-time ID check was meant to ensure safety for all app users and that decisions were made with oversight to avoid impacting someone’s livelihood unjustly. The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the App Drivers and Couriers Union supported Mr Manjang’s case, expressing concerns about the impact of artificial intelligence on his income and labelling the excessive selfie requests as racial harassment.

Mr Manjang, now reinstated and working in Oxfordshire, viewed the out-of-court settlement as the end of a challenging period. His case shed light on the potential issues associated with AI, particularly for low-paid gig economy workers, and he hoped it would contribute to strengthening rights and protections for ethnic minorities in relation to AI.

Baroness Falkner, chair of the EHRC, emphasized Mr Manjang’s right to understand the opaque processes that affected his work without having to resort to legal action. She highlighted previous cases where ethnicity impacted technology use, including in law enforcement, government offices, and educational institutions. These instances underscore the need for greater transparency and accountability in the application of AI technologies.

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