• Sunday, April 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Uber Eats driver gets payout over racially-biased face scans

The driver said he was regularly asked to resubmit selfie images of himself to the Uber Eats app as it did not recognise him, despite no change to his appearance

Picture for representation. (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

An Uber Eats driver of African descent received a payout to end a legal claim against “racially discriminatory” facial-recognition checks.

Pa Edrissa Manjang began working for the food delivery platform in November 2019, but later the facial-recognition checks prevented him from accessing the app to secure work.

The Microsoft-powered Uber Eats app increased these verification checks and in 2021 he lost his job due to mismatches in his submissions.

Manjang claimed he was regularly asked to resubmit selfie images of himself to the platform as it did not recognise him, despite no change to his appearance.

Following his dismissal, he launched a legal claim with support and funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the App Drivers and Couriers Union (ADCU).

Manjang was later reinstated by Uber Eats and currently works in Oxfordshire. He said the out-of-court settlement marked the end of a difficult period.

“My case shines a spotlight on the potential problems with the use of AI, particularly for low-paid workers in the gig economy,” he said.

He hoped the decision would help strengthen the rights and protections of workers, especially those hailing from ethnic minorities.

The ADCU said the number of selfies Manjang had been asked for amounted to racial harassment.

The union wanted workers’ rights to be protected while implementing new-age technologies like artificial intelligence and automation.

EHRC chair Baroness Kishwer Falkner expressed concern over the opaque processes being followed by companies.

Manjang was not made aware that his account was in the process of deactivation, nor provided any clear and effective route to challenge the technology, she pointed out.

The Baroness said that AI presents a challenge for employers, lawyers and regulators.

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