The Israeli taxi app Gett is being sued for $58.5 million (NIS 150 million) on charges of discrimination due to providing customers with an option to filter out Arab drivers.
A “Mehadrin” option based in Jerusalem offered through the Gett app allows customers to order a taxi with a shomer Shabbos driver.
The class-action lawsuit claims that the Mehadrin option discriminates against Jerusalem’s Arab taxi drivers, most of whom drive on Shabbos, a Channel 12 News report said.
“They give it a religious title,” said Attorney Assaf Pink to the Guardian. “But, in fact, this is a proxy for a racist service that provides taxis with Jewish drivers. Of course, they can’t just say ‘we don’t want Arabs.'”
Pink and the Israel Religious Action Center carried out a private investigation before filing the lawsuit. Channel 12 News broadcast segments of the hidden camera footage of the undercover investigation, with one scene showing an undercover private investigator asking a cab driver what the Mehadrin service offers.
“It’s only Jews,” the driver responded. “People don’t want Arab drivers.”
Another scene shows two investigators posing as potential Gett drivers in a meeting with Gett’s Jerusalem representative.
“Gett Mehadrin isn’t for religious people, it’s for people who don’t want an Arab driver,” the representative said. “I have 1,500 Arab drivers here, not even one of them is Mehadrin… and won’t be.”
Gett responded to the lawsuit by stating that “Gett provides its services to all taxi drivers and all its [app] users… and decisively objects to any kind of discrimination.”
“Regarding the last incident, the ‘Mehadrin Gett’ fleet is just one of the fleets that Gett operates, is open only to Jerusalem users and was launched in order to satisfy a need for a specific sector in the population, to which, according to its faith, is unable to reserve taxis that cannot drive on the Sabbath and on Jewish holiday.”
“Every taxi driver who is interested in belonging to this fleet, including non-Jews, can join, on the condition that the taxi does not drive on Shabbat and during Jewish holidays.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)