Uber driver says she was injured by riders who threw bottles
A female Uber driver said she was hit with beer bottles, sexually harassed and peppered with racial slurs by passengers who she picked up outside a Fort Worth nightclub in March. She says she wants the ride-sharing company to do a better job of protecting its drivers.
Zonya Robinson, a 36-year-old black woman, said she picked up one woman and three men shortly after midnight in the 2500 block of Meacham Boulevard in Fort Worth. While she was still in the parking lot of the nightclub, the conversation became strained, with sexual innuendo and racial animus, she said.
When one of the male passengers suggested he would give her $100 to participate with him in a sexual situation, Robinson pulled over and asked for an apology, she said. The female passenger in the car was remorseful, apologized and prevailed on the man to apologize, and Robinson continued with the ride.
“I told them that I knew they were inebriated but the conversation was going to remain professional, the conversation would end or the ride would end,” Robinson said.
But once the ride resumed, the men began using racial epithets and when confronted about it, said that “you people talk to each other like that all the time,” Robinson said.
Robinson ended the ride on a service road in Haltom City, getting out of the car to ensure that the passengers were out of the vehicle. Two of the passengers got out of her vehicle and threw bottles at her, Robinson said.
Robinson described shielding her face with her hands from the incoming bottles and said one of the bottles shattered on her hands, causing deep cuts and excessive bleeding. The other bottle just missed her head.
Robinson got back into her car, locked the doors and called police as she drove away. Haltom City police responded and provided medical attention. The police found the individuals responsible for the assault and arrested the two men, said Larry Taylor Jr., an attorney who is representing Robinson.
Robinson said one of the glass bottles shattered against her hand causing deep lacerations between her thumb and forefinger, and broken glass also caused a cut on her other hand, limiting the range of motion for her middle finger. She has also lost feeling in her hands, Taylor said.
Taylor’s office provided pictures of Robinson’s blood-stained clothing.
On May 14, a Tarrant County grand jury indicted Konstantino Dean Garefos, 37, on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the allegation. A Tarrant County grand jury declined to pursue a case against the other man who was arrested, Jesse Towi Mosley, according to Taylor.
Garefos and Mosley have extensive histories with Tarrant County law enforcement, including charges of resisting arrest, assault and burglary.
J. Don Carter, the attorney representing Garefos, said he conducted his own investigation and has come up with a different set of facts. Carter declined to say what facts his investigation uncovered.
Robinson filed a complaint with Uber regarding this incident and received no response, she said. With a variety of initiatives recently announced by Uber to enhance passenger safety, Robinson questions whether the company values the safety of its drivers.
In particular, female Uber drivers face numerous safety hazards while transporting passengers, especially late at night, she said.
Uber officials did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Robinson said she is considering filing a lawsuit against Uber, depending on the company’s response to a complaint she filed weeks ago.
Uber needs to have a response team in every city, it is about whether drivers will feel safe doing this job 10 years from now, Robinson said.
She said she still drives for Uber because she likes the freedom the position gives her. But Robinson, who said she has worked with Uber for more than two years, has cut out driving late at night, even though she said late-night driving pays the highest rates.
Robinson said she never previously had a bad experience driving with Uber, but now she feels driving at night is too dangerous.
“There was blood everywhere,” Robinson said. “The first responding officer actually cut himself on broken glass inside the car. There was blood on my clothes, there was blood on the windshield. My hair smelled like Heineken. It was crazy.”