Is Chariot, The Controversial Uber-Like Service Exclusive For Women and Children, Legal?By Mariel Hemingway, UniversityHerald Reporter
Chariot for Women is a ridesharing service made by a husband and wife from Charlton, Massachusetts. The ride service is exclusive only to women and children under the age of 13 and will launch in the US on April 19. While this is good news for ladies who have had safety issues in similar services, are there repurcussions for excluding the male demographic?
There have been scores of reports of women being assaulted and violated by Uber drivers during their trip. Tech Crunch notes that Chariot for Women only hires women drivers, donate 2 percent of every fare to charity and do not use surge charging. Additionally, the company has a strict driver background checks as they require that all must pass the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check sponsored by the company. Another safety feature they will add soon is fingerprinting.
On their website, Chariot for Women describes how their company and exclusive ridesharing service came to be. Michael Pelletz, one of the organizers of the company, is a former Uber driver, who designed the service with women's safety in mind. He recalled all the conversations he had with women who had negative experiences while using the ridesharing services from Uber and Lyft. The service also comes with additional security features for both passengers and drivers.
"Every time the driver starts her day, she has to answer a random security question that changes daily to ensure her identity. When the passenger requests a ride, a safe word pops up on the driver and passenger's phone," they Chariot for Women website said. "If the driver says the correct word, the ride may begin. If the driver doesn't have the same safe word, the passenger then knows immediately not to get into that Chariot, and will then look for the correct vehicle."
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While this new upcoming ridesharing service for women is great, some critics have raised the issue of gender discrimination. ABC News reports that the company will be rebranding under a name called SheHails. The outlet reports that the company temporarily closed because they cannot keep up with the demand and because of numerous accusations from men who cannot acquire the service.
"You can't limit hiring to just one gender," an employment law expert told the outlet. "From a public accommodation aspect, you can't limit who you offer your services to just one gender."
However, Chariot for Women who will be called SheHails soon, says that their business complies with the law, Ars Technica reports. The company's lawyer Chase Liu said that their stringent driver hiring process is a bona fide occupational qualification critical to their clients' need for privacy and safety.