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Ridehail driver tackled by Uber security guard while delivering driver petition

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An Uber driver delivering a petition Friday to the multi-billion dollar ridehail giant was tackled to the ground by a security guard, video released by a group representing drivers shows.

Thom Hoffman, an Uber driver with a workers alliance called Gig Workers Rising, aimed to deliver a petition demanding protection from “unfair deactivation policies” to Uber headquarters at 1455 Market Street Friday afternoon.

When drivers are kicked off the platform due to rider complaints or other reasons, which is called “deactivation” in Uber parlance, drivers may lose out on driving hours and needed income while they appeal. Even if they are exonerated of the reasons leading to their deactivation, they’re still punished, the drivers claim.

Those policies unfairly kick Uber drivers off the platform without due process or clear communication, Hoffman and 3,300 signatories of the petition alleged. Yet as Hoffman tried to open the glass doors to Uber’s HQ, a security officer grabbed Hoffman from behind , reaching to his stomach, and pulled him to the ground, pinning him to the brick-laid ground below, video taken by Gig Workers Rising shows.

Carla Gray, director of security for Uber, said in a statement, “We are very concerned by the video. Our security policy is to ensure the safety of those in and around our facilities, and we will not tolerate any actions that are not in line with that policy. The individual in question has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately by our third-party vendor while the matter is being investigated.”

Gig Workers Rising intended to share four specific demands around driver deactivation with Uber: They asked for a meeting to discuss the demands, for Uber to develop “clear communication” with a driver before deactivation is triggered with a transparent appeals process, a system to account for “discrimination and bias” on behalf of passengers who complain of drivers, and policies allowing “immediate” deactivations of drivers in “extreme and clearly defined circumstances.”

“When Uber deactivated me, I had been driving for them for 2 years,” said Eleisha R., an Uber driver who told her story in the text of the petition.

She continued, “One day, I woke up and couldn’t log in to the app. Uber deactivated me because of a glitch in their system. In my case, the deactivation was Uber’s fault, but drivers get unfairly deactivated every day for all sorts of reasons.”

Eleisha said she could not drive for Uber for 3 weeks and fell behind on her car payment to Uber, who she leased the car from. Once her account was reactivated, she worked 12-13 hours a day to pay off what she owed, she said.

“It didn’t matter. Uber repossessed my car – taking the thing that I rely on to make a living and something that I was leasing from them,” she wrote. “Even though I’ve been reactivated, I live in constant fear that I could be deactivated again for some unknown reason. We shouldn’t have to live like this.”

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