A California Lyft driver has been fired after he allegedly refused to give a blind man a ride home because the man had a guide dog, according to reports.
Charles Massey told KCBS he and his guide dog, an 8-year-old yellow lab named Jedi, were in a Lyft he ordered April 6 only seconds before the driver said he couldn’t take them where they needed to go.
When Massey asked why, the driver allegedly said he didn’t want the dog damaging his leather seats.
“So I put Jedi on the floor, and [the driver] still wasn’t happy,” Massey told KCBS. “He insisted I get out of the car and I refused to get out.”
The driver called 911, Massey said, noting he recorded the call on his own phone.
In Massey's recording, a woman he said was the dispatcher can be heard asking the driver, “And why does your client not want to get out?"
Massey interjects, saying, “I have a service dog; I’m blind."
“It doesn’t matter," the driver responds to Massey before saying to the dispatcher, "I need a police officer. “
“No, it does matter,” Massey says.
A deputy with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene and took Massey and Jedi home, KCBS reported.
Lyft said they removed the man from its platform, which will prevent him from driving for them in the future.
“Any form of discrimination on our platform is simply unacceptable,” the company said in a statement to KCBS.
“Lyft has a strict Service Animal policy that requires all drivers to accommodate passengers traveling with service animals, and we take any allegation of this nature very seriously,” the ride-sharing company said in a statement. “We have been in touch with the passenger to offer our support and permanently deactivated the driver.”
But Massey said the incident isn’t unique and is instead indicative of a larger problem blind people face.
“It’s not what I feel at that time, it’s what I feel the next time I call for a ride,” he said.