New Jersey Uber driver banned for kicking lesbian couple out after they shared a kiss on the cheek
Kristin Gauthier was traveling with her girlfriend Jennifer Mangan to a Zac Brown Band concert in Camden, New Jersey, on Friday, September 6, when the incident occurred
CAMDEN, NEW JERSEY: An Uber driver who kicked a couple out of her car for being gay has been banned from using the ridesharing app. In a conversation with NBC News, Kristin Gauthier said she was traveling with her girlfriend Jennifer Mangan to a Zac Brown Band concert in Camden, New Jersey, on Friday, September 6 when the incident took place.
The 33-year-old reportedly leaned over to 38-year-old Mangan, about four minutes into the ride and kissed her on the cheek, saying, "Let's have a great night." This apparently "set the driver off" and she instructed the couple to get out of the car immediately.
"She looked at us in the rearview mirror and told us to get out of the car," Gauthier explained. "She said 'I don't support that; she's your girlfriend'." At this point, Mangan left the vehicle, but Gauthier stayed on and began recording the interaction on her phone.
"Are you kicking me out because I'm gay?" she is heard asking in the Facebook video, which has since gone viral. "Yes, I am," the driver, known only as Cynthia, responded. "Get out!"
The driver is then seen attempting to smack Gauthier's phone from her hand, saying she has the right to cancel any ride she wants. "What is wrong with you?" Gauthier then asked Cynthia. "This is an Uber ride. I’m paying you for a service."
Gauthier, however, stopped recording the back and forth after the driver threatened to call the police. The pair were forced to walk about a half-mile home in the rain. They later "decided to take a train to the concert" so they didn't have to book another Uber.
Nonetheless, Gauthier filed a report with Uber the same day, and the ridesharing giant responded within an hour.
"Uber does not tolerate discrimination in any form and we have been in contact with this rider," Uber spokesperson Grant Klinzman told NBC News in an email. "We removed the driver's access to the app as soon as we were made aware of this incident."
Gauthier was at first skeptical about posting the recording online as she had cursed in it and thought it would reflect poorly on her. However, she shared the interaction publicly, only to find so many people come to her defense.
"People who don’t agree with gay people have reached out and said that even though they have the freedom to have their own personal beliefs, they wouldn't kick a gay person out of their car," she said. "It makes you believe that it's a better world than the people who do these cruel kind of things would have you believe."
A teacher by profession, Gauthier said her students have extended their support wholeheartedly. "I'm a teacher and students have been reaching out and saying they're proud of us," she said. "They see the bigger picture."