Alex Iovine, 26, and her girlfriend, Emma Pichl, 24, were finishing up a relaxing Saturday afternoon of barbecue food at Pig Beach, a Brooklyn gastropub, when they began to head to their next destination — a birthday party in Manhattan. Alex pulled out her phone and summoned an Uber to take them over the East River and back to Manhattan.
As they were crossing the Manhattan Bridge, Iovine and her girlfriend, each seated at the windows, leaned over the middle seat and shared a kiss that Iovine described as a “peck.”
“A few minutes later, the driver suddenly pulled over and said, ‘Get out of my car, you’re not allowed to do that,’ ” Iovine told NBC News on Monday.
“At first my girlfriend, Emma, thought he was kidding and started laughing,” Iovine continued. “I said, ‘I don’t think he’s kidding.’ ”
“I started filming because I thought something was wrong,” Iovine said. The driver told them kissing was “illegal” and “disrespectful.”
After ejecting them from his vehicle, the driver tried to get Iovine to stop filming before he sped away.
Iovine filed a report with Uber that day, and the car-sharing company contacted her Monday. The Uber representative said he could not share details of the investigation, “but he could say that if a driver has done this [in the past], they have chosen to not partner with the driver again,” Iovine said.
“Honestly, we were scared and shocked, mostly shocked, because we have never experienced that type of prejudice, especially in New York City,” Iovine said.
In a statement, Uber said the company “does not tolerate any form of discrimination, and we have reached out to the rider regarding her experience. We are investigating and will take appropriate action.”
“It was so upsetting,” Iovine said. "In the heat of the moment it turned into anger.”
She hoped that by sharing her story, she would make a difference and make it more difficult for discrimination like this to take place. Since sharing, “there’s been so much support from friends and strangers, it makes us feel warm and a lot better.”
As for Uber, Iovine said, “I might just take the subway for the next few months.”