A New York City Uber driver witnessed what he thought was a deplorable act and kicked a lesbian couple out of his vehicle. They were caught sharing a tender moment sharing a quick smooch in the backseat.
At around 5 p.m., Emma Pichl, 24 and her girlfriend Alex Iovine, 26 called for the car service after leaving a birthday party at the Pig Beach bar in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
Little did they know their causal PDA in transit would get them nowhere fast.
Pichl told the New York Post about the kiss.
We got over the Manhattan Bridge into the city. We were sitting on opposite sides of the backseat. At one point we leaned over and pecked kiss, very fast.
It was enough for the offended driver to pull over and admonish the girls by telling them, "You should not do that … do not do that."
But when the driver opened the car doors, Pichl was taken aback. "I thought he was kidding and then Alex said, 'I don't think he is.'"
Iovine pulled out her smartphone and filmed the confrontation of the miffed driver who exclaimed kissing was "illegal."
He started yelling at us that we were disrespectful and inappropriate and that he wants us out of his car … we were going back and forth trying to understand.
Alex Iovine recounts the moment she and her girlfriend were kicked out of the car.
As seen in the 62-second video, the driver proceeded to reprimand the couple:
Yeah it is illegal. You don't do that here in the car … you are not allowed to do this.
Unsure of how far this was going to escalate Iovine continued filming as one of the girls can be heard, yelling:
What are you f—king talking about? Are you sick in the head? Why are we not allowed to kiss in an Uber?
The driver countered:
You are not allowed … it's disrespectful … it's disrespectful. I don't want to argue with you. Just get off my car.
He kept saying "it's illegal" about the kiss.(Eyewitness News ABC7NY/YouTube)
Frustrated, Iovine wanted answers and reminded him they were not committing a crime.
I want to understand — what did we do wrong? Nothing is illegal. It is not illegal to kiss in New York.
Moments later, the irate driver grabbed her arm to shove Pichl away from the vehicle. Iovine was not having it.
Get off of her phone. Don't f—king touch her. I'm reporting you. I'm gonna get you fired.
By the end of the video, the driver sped off with their 22-dollar ride already charged to their account, leaving the couple out on the street before reaching their destination.
Pichl, senior recruiter for a recruiting company, said they were shocked over being victims of discrimination in a diverse city as Manhattan.
We were in shock. Definitely very shaken and upset. We always thought we lived in this untouchable New York City bubble where LGBTQ is so accepted. We never thought something like this would happen to us. It was a good lesson to show it can happen to you anywhere.
There were consequences. The driver was identified as Ahmad El Boutari, and he had his license suspended. The ride-share company refunded the $22 fare and the incident is currently under investigation.
An Uber spokesperson issued a statement on Monday after contacting the couple to offer an apology.
Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we have reached out to the rider regarding her experience. We are investigating and will take appropriate action.
My city doesn't put up with crap like this - thank you to Uber and the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission for the qu… https://t.co/8ienZooRPv— Marty Rabinowitz (@Marty Rabinowitz) 1528896451.0
The responses were mixed, with some saying the driver should have been respected.
@NBCNews @NBCOUT So what? Driver has all the rights to except a decent, appropriate behaviour in his car. Irrespect… https://t.co/mbLHHyzqDW— Vanalich (@Vanalich) 1528775913.0
@NBCNews @NBCOUT Keep it in the bedroom & off the streets.— JOHN CURTIS (@JOHN CURTIS) 1528772035.0
@johnacurtis1199 @NBCNews @NBCOUT Totally. And certainly respect the driver if you are using his services— Vanalich (@Vanalich) 1528776012.0
Others were less forgiving of the driver.
@vanalich @johnacurtis1199 @NBCNews @NBCOUT Do you think drivers needs to respect their customers? Public displays… https://t.co/rjaOhQ3EIp— the Madhat Katt 🌈💖💜💙💚💛🧡 (@the Madhat Katt 🌈💖💜💙💚💛🧡) 1528815699.0
@realDailyWire @AmandaPresto Andrew Garfield: 'Let's just drive an Uber for everyone who wants to be driven by Uber'— Henk Boven (@Henk Boven) 1529046493.0