Boycott Lyft for firing driver over no-weapons policy

News5 Cleveland reports, "Lyft driver says she fought off two attackers only to be fired from her job."  The driver picked up two fares, one of whom insisted on sitting up front with her (in apparent violation of COVID-19 distancing protocols, by the way).  He then called her a b---- and punched her in the face while his accomplice grabbed her around the neck and declared a carjacking while the accomplice suggested that he use a knife, thus adding the credible threat of a weapon to the violent crime.  Only at this point did she draw a gun and open fire on the two violent felons.  Cleveland 19 News adds that the two suspects, if apprehended, will face attempted kidnapping and aggravated robbery charges.

Lyft nonetheless fired the driver for violating its no-weapons policy: "Our 'No Weapons' policy applies when you are doing business as a representative of Lyft, which includes times that you are driving for Lyft, as well as times that you are visiting a Lyft Hub."  The policy then contends that the presence of a weapon may make a member of the community feel uncomfortable.  I think being assaulted, kidnapped, raped, and murdered would have made the driver feel even more uncomfortable, so I have zero respect for Lyft's position.

Yes, It's Workplace Violence

Workplace violence includes not only employee-on-employee violence, but also crimes by nonemployees such as convenience store and liquor store robberies.  OSHA adds, "Taxicab establishments had the highest rate of occupational homicide — nearly 40 times the national average and more than three times the rate of liquor stores, which had the next highest rate."  Whatever countermeasures Lyft had in place, including some kind of "safety tool kit" that can be used on a cell phone, did not prevent this easily foreseeable act of workplace violence.  The assailants, in fact, took the woman's cell phone from her so she could not call for help.  Even had she been able to do so, she was in immediate danger of death or serious physical injury.

A Google search on "lawsuit" and "workplace violence" is highly instructive.  A wrongful death lawsuit was in fact filed against Domino's Pizza for allegedly sending a driver to a questionable address, although the article admits that the plaintiffs may need to work hard to establish liability.  "While there may be no general duty of employers to protect employees from criminal assault, there are some situations where employers can assume this duty."  Parker Waichman LLP adds that "negligent security" can be a cause of action against an employer.  The driver who was fired should at least talk to an Ohio attorney about whether Lyft has any liability for the traumatic experience of being assaulted, menaced with a knife, and put in reasonable fear for her life while working for Lyft.  In addition, were something like this to ever happen to another Lyft driver, a very strong argument could be made that Lyft was on record as knowing of the danger but failed to take action to prevent a recurrence.  That would certainly be my position as a juror, anyway.

Cleveland 19 adds, "A spokesperson for Lyft told 19 News the company stands by its decision."  My decision is to not patronize or recommend businesses that fire employees for exercising their basic human right of self-defense, especially when whatever security measures the business had in place failed to prevent the underlying incident.  To paraphrase General Sir Charles Napier, Lyft, you stand by your decision, and I will stand by mine.

Civis Americanus is the pen name of a contributor who remembers the lessons of history and wants to ensure that our country never needs to learn those lessons again the hard way.  The author is remaining anonymous due to the likely prospect of being subjected to "cancel culture" for exposing the Big Lie behind Black Lives Matter.

Image: Lyft.

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