Matt Togni and his boyfriend were on their way to celebrate LGBTQ pride in San Francisco this past Saturday night when they say their Uber ride took a nasty turn, the driver hurling homophobic slurs at them and kicking them out of the car.
Togni said he was with his boyfriend, Sumeet Chadha (visiting from Seattle), and two friends when they called an Uber around 11 p.m. to take them from SoMa (South of Market) to the Castro.
"We get into the Uber, everything's OK, I'm holding my boyfriend's hand. I look at him, I say 'I love you babe' and I give him a kiss on the lips. It was a peck, nothing more. And the driver all of a sudden says, "You have to get out of the car. This ride is not going to work, it's not going to work," Togni, 23, told me.
The situation quickly deteriorated from there, according to Togni. When the four men asked the driver what he meant, the driver said he was out of gas. But Togni told me his friend in the front seat checked the dashboard and found the gas tank was apparently far from empty. When his friend questioned the driver, Togni said, the driver responded, "What I just saw was disgusting and I want you out of my car."
"The driver called us all faggots. I'm like, 'I'm going to report you to Uber,'" Tongi told me. "He's like, 'Nothing's going to happen, Uber's not going to do anything about this. You're all going to hell, that's all that's going to happen,' and then he drove away."
The next morning, Togni and Chadha filed a complaint with Uber about the incident. Here's what they wrote in their complaint:
"We were there celebrating our individuality, being gay, and to have that happen in San Francisco of all places, on that weekend, was just really, really sad and disappointing," Togni told me.
The company responded to the complaint and called Chadha, 25, telling him that they couldn't disclose what would happen to the driver but that the behavior he described was unacceptable and that they were investigating. Here's the message they sent him after speaking with him on the phone:
An Uber spokesperson referred me to their policy on "de-activating" drivers, but did not confirm whether the driver in question would be disciplined or fired. The policy states that discrimination is one cause for a driver having their account de-activated.
"Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we are looking into this incident,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Fusion.
The ride sharing company had been running a publicity campaign in San Francisco encouraging LGBTQ customers to use their service during Pride.
For Togni and Chadha, anything short of an assurance that the driver has been dismissed and that Uber will consider vetting its drivers more closely is unacceptable.
"I just want peace of mind, I just want to make sure this won't happen to some other gay couple, but Uber isn't giving us that which is a little disappointing," Togni said. "I feel like they're not doing anything about it. It's disheartening and it makes me angry. I just wish Uber would vet their drivers. Especially in light of the campaign. Uber cannot sit here and promote gay pride and try to make money off it essentially and then not actually vet their drivers and make sure they're gay friendly. "