During a turbulent summer of protests and violent riots regarding so-called “systemic racism,” numerous companies announced that they would only be offering certain services to customers based on race. Some of the most high-profile of those companies have since found themselves facing lawsuits for racial discrimination.
In June 2020, Uber Eats’ CEO announced in an email that the company would offer free delivery only to black-owned restaurants until the end of 2020. The company would “promote black-owned restaurants on its app, and that the service will not charge delivery fees to those restaurants ‘for the remainder of the year,’” and the company will also provide “discounted rides to black-owned small businesses ‘who have been hit hard by COVID-19,’” Fox News reported.
The state of Arizona launched a challenge to such racially discriminatory policies, and on Wednesday, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced that his office “settled civil rights cases involving Uber Eats, Postmates, and DoorDash (Companies) regarding allegations of discrimination based on race. The Companies can no longer offer price distinctions based on a person’s race.”
“Even with the best of intentions, corporations can do the wrong thing. Altering the price of goods or services based on race is illegal,” said Brnovich. “My office opened these investigations and pursued these settlements to protect civil rights and ensure businesses offer their services and products based on equal and neutral criteria.”
The announcement stated that in fall 2020,” the AGO’s Civil Rights Division filed Divisional Charges against the Companies alleging public accommodations discrimination based on race,” alleging specifically that “the Companies’ promotions to waive delivery fees for restaurants owned by Black individuals unlawfully discriminated against non-Black owned restaurants and their patrons, in violation of the Arizona Civil Rights Act (ACRA).”
Following the settlement, these companies will “not offer financial incentives, advertise, provide any delivery fee discounts, or price-related discounts to customers in Arizona based on a restaurant owner’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or ancestry.”
In addition, the companies will be required to “ensure that their employees and agents who develop Arizona promotions receive notice of the Company’s obligations under the settlement agreement,” that they “will not engage in discrimination or retaliation,” and that they “will continue to provide anti-discrimination training to their employees.”
In a statement to Fox Business, Uber said it was “proud to have supported Black-owned businesses and we’ll continue to make it a priority.”
“We have heard loud and clear from consumers that the ability to easily identify Black-owned restaurants on Uber Eats is a feature they want and appreciate,” a spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, a DoorDash spokesperson told Fox Business, “The ongoing health and economic crisis disproportionately devastated communities of color and highlighted disparities in opportunity for vulnerable populations. Furthering the long tradition of public and private sector efforts to break down barriers, DoorDash is proud to support Black-owned businesses and honored to do our part to lift up those who need it most.”
“While we adamantly deny any wrongdoing, particularly when government programs have offered the exact support DoorDash has provided, we’re ready to put this dispute behind us and return our focus to enabling equitable access to the merchants, Dashers, and customers we serve. We all have an obligation to elevate and support underrepresented communities, and we look forward to continuing to do so in Arizona and beyond,” they added.