South Florida Uber driver fined for not knowing how to speak English
An Uber driver in Miami-Dade County, Florida, was issued a citation Monday for not being able to properly communicate in English, according to WTVJ-TV.
Bystanders looked on outside Miami International Airport as a Miami-Dade Police officer wrote Uber driver Carmen Echevarria a ticket that carries a $250 fine after the officer discovered that Echevarria could not speak English.
“I felt discriminated against,” Echevarria told WSCV-TV in Spanish. “I asked the (passenger sitting in her car) ‘Can you please help translate what she is saying?’ Then she asked why, if I was an Uber driver, I didn’t speak English.”
“I told her ‘so sorry, a little English,’ then she called the inspector who also confronted me and told me in order to be an Uber driver I needed to speak English,” Echevarria added.
Miami-Dade County officials issued a memorandum in May 2016 with several requirements for ride-sharing drivers who wish to operate in the area, one of which stated that all ride-sharing drivers should be able to communicate in the English language.
Miami-Dade Department of Transportation Public Relations Officer Karla Damian explained in a statement after the arrest that although the new regulation doesn’t require proficiency, it requires enough understanding that the driver can communicate with a passenger in the event there is an emergency.
“The code doesn’t require the driver to be ‘proficient’ in the English language, but the driver should have some knowledge of the English language in order to communicate with a passenger in case of an emergency or to receive and understand basic directions from the passenger(s),” Damian said.
A spokesman for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez indicated city officials were planning on looking into the incident.
“It does seem like she could communicate in the English language and take directions so it’s unfortunate that a fine was issued,” he said. “The county can work with this driver and with Uber to address this situation.”
Uber spokesman Javi Correoso told WTVJ that Uber tells all driver partners to follow and be aware of all local laws and regulations when driving for the company but that Miami-Dade’s code is vague and difficult to enforce. He also said that all applications potential drivers are required to fill out are written in English, and although Uber has paid fines for some drivers in the past, he could not confirm whether the ride-sharing company was planning to pay the fine for Echevarria.