Bev Herscovitch, a 33-year-old freelancer, and health care and disability advocate, says she was kicked out of an Uber after asking the driver to wear a mask or roll down the car's windows.
The Uber was picking up Herscovitch from a midtown Toronto hospital on June 13, around 3:00 p.m., as she was heading home from a pre-op appointment for a surgery she's scheduled to have next month.
After waiting 25 minutes for her Uber, she got in the car and noticed the Uber driver wasn't wearing a mask.
"I'm having surgery in less than 30 days, and like I don't want to get COVID and have it postponed because I've been waiting since April 2021 to have this surgery," Herscovitch told Narcity in an interview.
"All I said was 'Do you have a mask?' and then he immediately started to get mad at me and just being very pensive and rude."
She says the driver brought up how Uber had changed the mask policy in April 2022 and that they were no longer required to wear a mask.
Regardless of the matter, Herscovitch said she continued to ask if the driver could put a mask on and said "he kept yelling" at her.
She then tried to compromise by asking if the driver could just roll down the car's windows.
"I just really wanted to get home. I had to do work, and I was really not feeling well," she added.
Herscovitch says she had already fully rolled her window down, and the driver's window was slightly opened.
After asking for accommodation, the driver apparently replied by saying, "Oh, they are open."
"I asked, 'Well, I know mine is, and yours is, but can you open the other two, please, all the way? I prefer that.'"
Unfortunately, the request did not go over well.
"He just started driving, and he kind of immediately pulled over. He started yelling at me, and he was like, 'Don't talk to me that way. You can't talk to me that way.' He was like, 'Are you sick?'"
Herscovitch explained that she didn't have COVID-19 but just wanted to be protected. "He was like, 'I'm cancelling the ride, get out of the car,'" she added.
Feeling "overwhelmed" and unwell, Herscovitch got out of the Uber and decided to take public transit home. Mainly out of fear of waiting for another Uber only to have the same experience.
"I immediately reported him and also tweeted about it, and because [Uber] saw my tweet, they kind of contacted me pretty quickly."
Just got kicked out of an Uber for politely asking the driver if he had a mask. When he said no, I asked if he could open all four windows. He yelled at me and pulled over and told me to get out. This is unacceptable. Btw, he picked me up from a hospital. @Uber @Uber_Support
— Bev/Unwell Unlimitedly (@bevlate) June 13, 2022
Herscovitch says Uber apologized for the situation and credited $5 to her account. Although she didn't know what to expect from the company, she wasn't entirely happy with the response.
"I wasn't really looking for money. I was just looking for acknowledgment that they don't really create safe spaces for people with disability or illness or health issues – vulnerable people."
After going back and forth with Uber, Herscovitch says she asked them not to fire the driver and to lean towards change instead.
She says they confirmed that they would revoke any action taken against the driver.
"I'm really looking for like more public acknowledgment that you're going to create policies that are supportive of people who just need like reasonable accommodations," the 33-year-old continued.
Herscovitch lives with several illnesses and already deals with "respiratory and swallowing issues," so getting COVID-19 on top of her conditions "could be very dangerous."
Narcity reached out to Uber Canada for comment, and while they did not respond to the allegation directly, they said, "riders can reach out to their driver in advance through the app to request their driver to wear a mask."
"The rider can cancel the ride at any time in accordance with Uber's normal cancellation policies. If they are charged, riders can contact our support team and explain the reason for the cancellation in the app. If someone cancels a trip because they don't feel safe, generally, they will be refunded."
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.