Thursday, June 20, 2024

“We could all be deplatformed, at any minute, for any reason. That’s the whole point.”

Earla Phillips “just loves driving,” and is one of the few rideshare drivers in Toronto who took Centennial College’s taxi driver training program. Photo: supplied

One of Toronto’s best-known rideshare drivers was deplatformed in November by both Uber and Lyft on within 24 hours, then re-instated after public outcry.

“It was for refusing to take a rider with a child that requires a carseat,” says Earla Phillips, “and for refusing to take passengers that refused to adhere to masking mandates.”

The mask mandate, Phillips says, “is extremely important, inside of a taxi cab or a rideshare vehicle. We can’t social distance, so the masks are important.”

Despite the fact that Uber has a clear directive on its website that parents are required to supply a car seat for children that need them, drivers are often asked to ignore the law and transport the kids without the safety seat, Phillips says.

“In this case, the parent complained that my refusal was based on racism, which is ridiculous,” says Phillips, who is a well-known activist for the rights of rideshare drivers “However, both companies used the opportunity to deplatform me, I suspect because of my activism work. I think anyone would find the timing suspicious.”

Phillips, who was featured in the 2021 documentary “Ride Fair”, supports the aims of groups working to protect the rights of rideshare drivers, believes it was when Gig Workers United (@GigWorkersUnite) began tweeting to Uber and Lyft about her deplatforming that they begrudgingly re-instated her.

Asked if she isn’t worried she could be deplatformed again when her story appears in Taxi News, Phillips sighs, “We could all be deplatformed, at any minute, for any reason. That’s the whole point.”