A Spanish-speaking Uber driver was slapped with $250 fine after she failed to speak English with a passenger in Miami, Florida.
Carmen Echevarria drove to Miami International Airport to receive a passenger. However, when the passenger described details to her in English, she was unable to understand her.
When she asked her passenger to describe a bit more as she understood “little English,” the frustrated traveler got out of the car and complained to an airport worker about it.
“A landside inspector,” working on behalf of the local government, then approached the vehicle and handed the fine to the driver.
According to local county law, drivers must be able to understand basic English. As the law is just one-year-old, this incident is a first.
The brief exchange can be heard in the mobile footage captured by Echevarria.
The incident left Echevarria shaken and she felt discriminated against. She added that she even apologized to both the officer and the passenger but was still fined.
“I felt discriminated against. I asked the (passenger sitting in her car) ‘Can you please help translate what she is saying?’ Then she asked why, if I was an Uber driver, I didn’t speak English," she said.
She further added, “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.”
Uber said it has doesn’t require drivers to be able to speak English, but complies with local, state and federal laws in the United States.
“It says they have to communicate in English. It doesn’t say they have to speak English,” said Uber spokesman Javier Correoso of the law.
A spokesman for the office of Mayor Miami-Dade Carlos Gimenez, explained that usually in such situations warnings are given first instead of citations.
“It does seem like she could communicate in the English language and take directions so it's unfortunate that a fine was issued. The county can work with this driver and with Uber to address this situation,” said the spokesman.
The county law has left locals divided as Miami has a huge population of Hispanics. Some are proud of the Hispanic and Latin American population whereas others complain that English has become a “second language.”