An Uber driver who allegedly booted a lesbian couple over a kiss last month has been greenlighted to take the wheel again.
Administrative Law Judge Joycelyn McGeachy-Kuls recommended lifting the suspension of Ahmad El Boutari’s taxi license.
The New York driver made headlines after girlfriends Emma Pichl and Alex Iovine posted a video of the June 9 incident during which Boutari is seen telling the two their behavior is illegal. The couple alleges that Boutari ejected them over a simple peck while en route to a friend’s birthday in the East Village.
“Why are we not allowed to kiss in an Uber?” one of them asks him in the video.
“It’s disrespectful,” he tells them.
The women concluded that Boutari ended the ride because they were gay. They testified that while Boutari didn’t threaten them or say anything anti-gay, his actions made them feel unsafe.
The fallout led to the Boutari’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) license being suspended.
But speaking before the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings June 21, Boutari testified that the women arrived in his car drunk and then violated Uber’s policy barring sexual contact between riders.
“The thing is, these two girls . . . they went over and over, kissing. [They were] deeply kissing, the touching,” he testified.
Boutari claimed that in his four years as a driver, he has completed over 5,000 trips and served other same-sex couples without incident.
Ultimately, McGeachy-Kuls concluded it was unlikely that Boutari would notice a peck in the rearview mirror.
“It is also unlikely that respondent would give up a fare and potentially risk receiving a bad Uber rating for something as mild as a ‘peck kiss,’” she wrote.
Also, she added, Boutari’s credibility was enhanced by the fact that he filed a complaint about Pichl and Iovine with Uber shortly after the incident.
With that, she recommended TLC restore his license. Pichl and Iovine could not immediately be reached for comment.