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Women-only Uber-style service launching in Boston could face legal troubles

(Emily Berl/The New York Times)

Chariot for Women, a new Uber-style ride-sharing app that is set to launch in Boston this month and will only feature female passengers and drivers, could potentially face anti-discrimination lawsuits, warn legal experts.

The company was started by Michael Pelletz, once an Uber driver himself, who is hoping the service will make women feel safe — claiming he got the idea after picking up a barely conscious, incoherent man in his car and wondering how that would have made a female driver feel. “How many times did he pick up college girls at 2 or 3 a.m.? How many times did he watch as they spilled out of Boston clubs and into the wrong ride-share car?” Explains the Chariot for Women website.

The company will only pick up women and children, and has several security measures in place to ensure the identity of its drivers. However, civil rights lawyers believe the company could face gender discrimination lawsuits that would be hard to win. “Companies that provide a service need to accept potential customers without discriminating,” Dahlia C. Rudavsky, a partner in the Boston firm of Messing, Rudavsky & Weliky told the Boston Globe. “There’s nothing wrong with advertising particularly to a female customer base. But if a company goes further and refuses to pick up a man, I think they’d potentially run into legal trouble,” adding that only hiring female employees would spell even more legal trouble. Pelletz declined to address those legal issues, however, telling the newspaper: “We’re getting our ducks in a row. Right now, we’re concentrating on launching.”

Read the full story at The Boston Globe.

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