A Florida driver for the ride-hailing giant Uber is suing the company for the right to carry his gun while on the job. Jose Mejia, who has a Florida concealed-carry license, drives for Uber in the Miami area.
In a class action suit filed earlier this month, Mejia claims that Uber’s no-guns policy violates his rights under a 2008 state law that grants concealed carriers the right to possess a gun in their vehicle. The lawsuit quotes extensively from the statute, which says that Floridians have the right to keep and bear arms “within their motor vehicles for self-defense and other lawful purposes” and that these rights “are not abrogated by virtue of a citizen becoming a customer, employee, or invitee of a business entity.”
Uber, based in California, did not respond to a request to comment on the case.
Jon Gutmacher, a Florida attorney and gun-rights specialist, told The Trace on Monday that the suit has merit.
“Were this a company car or a car leased by the company, it would be an entirely different story,” he said. “But Uber drivers use their own vehicles.”
Mejia told a local ABC affiliate that he decided to sue after another Miami Uber driver and concealed carrier named Namique Anderson used his gun to defend himself. In December of last year, minutes after picking up a fare, Anderson was cut off by a minivan. The van’s driver emerged with two guns and approached Anderson’s door. Anderson opened fire on his assailant, killing him. He was not charged in the incident because he acted in self-defense.
Speaking to the Sun-Sentinel in the week following the shooting, Anderson declined to comment on whether he was still driving for Uber.
Uber implemented a strict no-guns rule in June 2015, after a Chicago driver intervened in a mugging, shooting an assailant with a shotgun. Neither riders nor drivers may use the ride-hailing service while armed, and the company says it may ban anyone who violates the rule.
A month after Uber implemented the policy, it fired one of its drivers in Texas for discharging his weapon inside a vehicle. Austin-area driver Deven Garza said he drew his pistol after a passenger grabbed his shirt and refused to let go. The weapon went off in the struggle.
Garza, a licensed concealed carrier, said that he had never been informed about Uber’s no-guns stance.
One Reddit user who claimed to drive for Uber in Texas spoke with The Trace after that incident. The anonymous driver said he planned to continue carrying a gun on the job, in violation of company policy.
“I carry because I would much rather lose the ability to work with Uber than be robbed, physically assaulted, or need to defend myself and be unable to,” he wrote in a message.