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Miami police fine Uber driver for not speaking English

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Published in Weird News

(UPI) Miami might be nicknamed the capital of Latin America, but that didn't stop police there from fining an Uber driver for not speaking English.

Uber driver Carmen Hechevarría was fined $250 at Miami's international airport for violating a Miami-Dade county code, adopted in May 2016, that requires ride-sharing app companies liker Uber and Lyft to have drivers who can communicate with riders in English.

The county, which has an English-only population of only 27.2 percent, has long had a similar requirement for taxi drivers.

Hechevarría was picking up a passenger at the Miami airport when Miami airport officer Detra Johnson confronted the driver.

"[Hechevarría] looked at me like she did not understand me," Miami airport officer Detra Johnson wrote.

After Johnson asked a colleague to translate, she determined that Hechevarría "could not speak or understand English."

Hechevarría later said that she felt discriminated against.

"I told her 'so sorry, a little English' then she called the inspector who also confronted me and told me in order to be an Uber driver I need it to speak English,'" Hechevarría explained.

 

In a statement, Miami-Dade Department of Transportation public relations officer Karla Damian said the rule doesn't require Uber drivers to be "proficient" in English, but have enough grasp of the language to communicate with a passenger in case of an emergency or to receive and understand basic directions from the passenger(s).

"It says they have to communicate in English," Uber spokesman Javier Correoso said of the county rule. It doesn't say they have to speak English.

Miami-Dade county has cited drivers 40 times for violating the language rule.

Uber has fought English-language requirements for its drivers in the past.

In March, the ride-sharing company sued London authorities to stop requiring that drivers applying for a minicab license be able to write a 120-word essay in English.

"We've always supported spoken English skills, but writing an essay has nothing to do with communicating with passengers or getting them safely from A to B," said Tom Elvidge, head of Uber's London office.

The court ruled against Uber.

Copyright 2017 by United Press International