SheTaxis is a livery car service that aims to connect female customers with taxis driven by women in pink pashmina scarves. Customers who want a driver use an app to call for a car. Some are alleging that the company’s drivers cannot legally refuse to pick up men.
The company was founded by Stella Mateo, who says it will serve women who want female drivers because of safety or religious reasons. The drivers will be independent contractors. A spokeswoman for the company said that men would not be excluded from using the service. The app will ask potential riders if there is a woman in their party. If there is not, the customers will be automatically redirected to other car services.
Of New York City’s 59,999 for-hire drivers of livery cars, green cabs, limousines and luxury sedans, only 5% are women. The service’s founders says she aims to change this. She states that she could have used a female driver to help shuttle her children to sports practices when they were growing up, and surely there are other parents who feel similarly.
SheTaxis will partner with existing livery companies to offer rides at competitive rates. Its female drivers range in age from 21 to 70. Like Uber, Sidecar, and Lyft, the service will collect fares through its app and then send payments to the drivers.
Most state laws disallow unfavorable treatment of workers and job applicants based on sex, and also ban places of public accommodation from discriminating against customers based on sex. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 also bans discrimination.
Though this service is trying to start in New York, it will likely struggle to function in California. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces laws that protect employees from illegal discrimination and harassment in employment based on actual or perceived gender, gender identity, and gender expression, amongst many other things. A company that only allows female drivers and female customers would be hard pressed to overcome these anti-discrimination laws.