An Uber driver was fined $250 at Miami International Airport on Sunday for not understanding English.
Carmen Echevarria had dropped a passenger off at the airport when, according
to CBS, an airport worker told Echavarria to move her car, which she didn’t understand. Echavarria speaks Spanish as her first language.
“She said, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing working for Uber if you don’t speak English.’” Echavarria said. “I did understand that part of the conversation.”
An inspector then came over to fine her, and Echevarria recorded the incident on her phone. Telemundo 51 acquired cellphone footage of the incident.
“I felt discriminated against,” Echevarria told Telemundo 51. “I asked (the passenger sitting in the car) ‘Can you please help translate what she is saying?’ Then she asked why, if I was an Uber driver, I didn’t speak English.”
“I said ‘I’m sorry,’ so she called the inspector who also confronted me and told me that to be an Uber driver I needed to speak English,” Echevarria, who has been an Uber driver for two years, said.
A county ordinance which came into effect last year requires drivers of transport network entities “to be able to communicate in the English language.” The ordinance will be replaced by a state law in July, which doesn’t include the language requirement.
Miami-Dade Department of Transportation Public Relations Officer Karla Damian issued a statement clarifying the rule.
“The Code does not require the driver to be proficient in the English language, but the driver must have some knowledge of the English language to communicate with a passenger in the event of an emergency or to receive and understand the passenger’s basic instructions,” she said.
Miami has a huge Spanish-speaking population, with 60 percent of Miami-Dade residents speaking Spanish at home, according to census data.
“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,” Uber said in a statement on the incident.
According to the mayor’s spokesperson, about 40 such citations have been issued to drivers. “There is a strong possibility that this administrative fine can be waived,” he said, Fox 6 Now reported.