MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami-Dade County requires that ride-sharing drivers speak English, and one Uber driver who learned the hard way is claiming discrimination.
“The fine if $250 for not speaking English fluently,” said Carmen Echevarria in Spanish, as she showed us her fine.
Echevarria, who says she’s been an Uber driver for the past two years, is outraged over the fine she received at Miami International Airport Sunday morning.
Echevarria recorded the exchange on her cell phone as she was being fined.
ECHEVARRIA: Why are you giving me a ticket?
INSPECTOR: Because there is a code “Unable to communicate in English.”
Echevarria said the whole thing began when an airport worker asked her to move her vehicle after she’d dropped off some passengers. But Echevarria had a hard time understanding what the airport worker was saying.
“She said, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing working for Uber if you don’t speak English.’ I did understand that part of the conversation” said Echevarria.
A landside inspector then came over to fine her.
ECHEVARRIA: Isn’t that called discrimination?
INSPECTOR: Go to court and it can be disputed.
ECHEVARRIA: You are giving me a ticket because I don’t speak English? I just don’t understand.
INSPECTOR: I’m giving you this ticket because of a violation.
CBS4 News reached out to the county about its code regarding the English requirement for drivers of ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft.
“According to Miami-Dade County code, our inspectors can fine someone if they do not have the proficiency in the English language; however they don’t have to be fluent in English. They simply have to be able to communicate in the language,” said Miami-Dade County Director of Communications Michael Hernandez.
The county says as of July 1st the county’s code will go away when new statewide rules supersede it. English proficiency isn’t a state requirement as of July 1.
During the exchange between the landside inspector and the Uber driver who claims the fine is discriminatory, the Uber driver herself made some questionable remarks.
“I’m not going to court. I’m going to court with a Jewish lawyer because that is what you call discrimination,” she said. “What happened was that black woman – I didn’t fall in her good graces.”
In the end Echevarria, drove away with the fine and cursing.
When asked about the incident and the driver, Uber issued a statement. It read, in part:
“We are proud of the diversity of driver partners in the South Florida market and until statewide regulations go into effect on July 1st, ask all driver partners in the state to follow all applicable local laws and regulations.”
Hernandez said there’s a possibility the fine can be waived.